Sometimes it is the simple things in life that make all the difference in maintaining good health. A recent study published in the European Heart Journal revealed that people who are happy and have a positive outlook on life are less likely to develop heart disease than those who tend to be anxious and depressed.
Researchers evaluated 1,700 people over the course of ten years for the study. Each participant’s emotions were rated categorically on a scale from one to five; these included feelings like hostility, joy, anxiety, enthusiasm, and contentment. At the completion of the study, less than one in ten participants developed heart disease, but for each increase on the “happiness scale”, participants were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
Though unable to explain precisely why happier people are less likely to become ill, researchers arrived at a few notable hypotheses. Because happier people tend to sleep better and have better sleeping patterns, their bodies are subject to less stress and, thus, less physical strain. Happier people are also better able to move on after a negative experience than unhappy people who tend to dwell longer on bad experiences.
Dr. Karina Davidson, author of the study, recommends that people try to have a better outlook on life. She believes the study reveals that learning to be content and enjoy life on a day-to-day basis will help to improve health and well being. Rather than simply look forward to a yearly vacation or some other far-off event, people should take the things they enjoy doing and incorporate them into their daily lives.
Reading a book, listening to enjoyable music, and taking time each day to relax and do something positive, even if only for a few minutes, will do wonders for one’s health, according to the research team.
Previous studies have also found a link between happiness and health, but some researchers insist that not every person is capable of simply changing his or her outlook on life. Concerted effort can be taken to think positively, but they say that certain “natural levels of positivity” cannot be changed, no matter how hard a person tries.
Every person is capable of striving towards thinking more positively. Learning to be conscious of and grateful for life’s many blessings is a good place to start. Learning to be content with what you have is another important aspect of happiness.
By Ethan A. Huff