Lifestyle

Why Happiness Is Good For Your Health

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In a country like Nigeria where almost everyone is tensed and things are often unpredictable, we need to practice happiness now than ever. If you don’t know, happiness makes good things happen. It actually promotes positive outcomes. 

You will be surprised that the benefits of happiness include higher income and superior work outcomes, for example, greater productivity, higher quality of work, greater occupational attainment, larger social rewards such as more satisfying and longer marriages, more friends, stronger social support, and richer social interactions, more activity, energy, and flow, and better physical health, for example, a bolstered immune system, lowered stress levels, and less pain, and even longer life. 

Thus, five things that happiness can do to you are listed below: 

1. Helps Reduce Pain

One study in over 1,000 people with painful arthritis of the knee found that happier individuals walked an extra 711 steps each day — 8.5% more than their less happy counterparts.

Happiness may also help reduce pain in other conditions. A study in nearly 1,000 people recovering from stroke found that the happiest individuals had 13% lower pain ratings after three months of leaving the hospital.

Researchers have suggested that happy people may have lower pain ratings because their positive emotions help broaden their perspective, encouraging new thoughts and ideas.

They believe this may help people build effective coping strategies that reduce their perception of pain. 

2. Lengthen Your Life Expectancy

Being happy may help you live longer. A long-term study published in 2015 looked at the effect of happiness on survival rates in 32,000 people.

The risk of death over the 30-year study period was 14% higher in unhappy individuals compared to their happier counterparts.

A large review of 70 studies looked at the association between positive well-being and longevity in both healthy people and those with a pre-existing health condition, such as heart or kidney disease. Higher positive well-being was found to have a favorable effect on survival, reducing the risk of death by 18% in healthy people and by 2% in those with pre-existing disease.

How happiness may lead to greater life expectancy is not well understood. It may be partly explained by an increase in beneficial behaviors that prolong survival, such as not smoking, engaging in physical activity, medication compliance, and good sleep habits and practices.

3. Protects Your Heart

Happiness may protect the heart by reducing blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

A study of over 6,500 people over the age of 65 found that positive well-being was linked to a 9% lower risk of high blood pressure.

Happiness may also reduce the risk of heart disease, the biggest cause of death worldwide.

A number of studies have shown that being happy has been associated with a 13–26% lower risk of heart disease.

One long-term of 1,500 adults found that happiness helped protect against heart disease.

Happiness was associated with a 22% lower risk over the 10-year study period, even after risk factors were accounted for, such as age, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.

It appears that happiness may also help protect people who already have heart disease. A systematic review of 30 studies found that greater positive well-being in adults with established heart disease lowered the risk of death by 11%.

It is important to note that some of these effects may have been due to an increase in heart-healthy behaviors such as physical activity, avoiding smoking and healthy eating habits.

That said, not all studies have found associations between happiness and heart disease.

In fact, a recent study that looked at nearly 1,500 individuals over a 12-year period found no association between positive well-being and the risk of heart disease.

4. Helps Combat Stress

Being happy may help reduce stress levels.

Normally, excess stress causes an increase in levels of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to many of the harmful effects of stress, including disturbed sleep, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

A number of studies demonstrate that cortisol levels tend to be lower when people are happier.

In fact, one study in over 200 adults gave participants a series of stressful lab-based tasks and found that the cortisol levels in the happiest individuals were 32% lower than for unhappy participants.

These effects appeared to persist over time. When the researchers followed up with the same group of adults three years later, there was a 20% difference in cortisol levels between the happiest and least happy people. 

5. Happiness strengthens your immune system

Do you know a grumpy person who always seems to be getting sick? That may be no coincidence: Research is now finding a link between happiness and a stronger immune system.

In a 2003 experiment, 350 adults volunteered to get exposed to the common cold (don’t worry, they were well-compensated). Before exposure, researchers called them six times in two weeks and asked how much they had experienced nine positive emotions—such as feeling energetic, pleased, and calm—that day. After five days in quarantine, the participants with the most positive emotions were less likely to have developed a cold.

A much earlier experiment found that immune system activity in the same individual goes up and down depending on their happiness.

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