Andrew Steptoe, a professor at the University College, London, told The Telegraph, “happiness is quite strongly linked to good social relationships, and maybe it is things like that that are accounting for the link between happiness and health.” For the study, researchers gauged the happiness levels of 3,853 people, ages 52-79 by monitoring their feelings several times over a day. Then, five years later, the researchers kept track of how many of those same people died, USA Today reported. Researchers said that this method of gauging happiness several times over a day is a better approach than asking someone generally how happy they are. People who have strong personalities might respond according to what they think they are supposed to say, rather than what they’re actually feeling, according to USA Today.
Researchers also took into account the study’s participants’ health, age, marital status and education level. After they controlled things like medical conditions (cancer, diabetes, and negative health risks like smoking), researchers still found that being happy was linked with living longer.
Andrew Steptoe was a bit surprised that the happiness effect was so strong, even among people who had chronic diseases. The research backs up many other studies that show a link between happiness and longevity. A review of 160 studies published in the journal of Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being in 2011 showed that the better we feel about our well-being, the longer we tend to live.
One of the studies included in that review involved 5,000 college students who were followed for more than 40 years. Science Daily reported that researchers found that pessimistic students died earlier than more optimistic peers.
Gretchen Rubin, former Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal and the author of Happiness Project, a recent New York Times bestselling book, wrote about the epiphany she had one day on her way to work. She wrote, “the days are long, but the years are short, time is passing and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” On that day she decided to dedicate a year to her own happiness project and do a different thing every month that she felt would bring her happiness. She did things like tackle nagging tasks, exercise more, acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings, sing in the morning, write a children’s book, and be more enthusiastic about things. She found that the smallest changes could make the biggest difference. I think this is interesting because it didn’t take a lot for her to feel happier, and that things like these things, just very well could make a person Healthier also.
It’s not just happiness that seems to have a physical effect on us-laughing has been shown in research to have health-boosting effects as well. Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that laughter had the same effect on blood vessels as exercise. I personally know that laughter has gotten me through some extremely difficult times.
The how to get happy is what often brings one to Life Coaching. Some people as I mentioned earlier are just more bent that way/born that way, some people grew up that way, and some people may need to learn it. The good news is that having read what I’ve read, that in most cases it is something that we can teach ourselves…most cases. How about those other cases?
Not So Happy-Why?
Deepak Chopra wrote in one of his Huffington Post postings Why You Don’t Want to Be Happy, about some of those other possible cases. He specifically mentioned those for instance that have low self-esteem, or the appeal of martyrdom, inner conflict and confusion, a belief that suffering is good for you, they could suffer from depression or anxiety, feel trapped by circumstances, be living with high stress, or have a resistance to being healthy. Deepak said, “these people often repeat that it’s dangerous to be too happy, on the premise that the higher you rise, the harder you fall. Society still needs therapists to deal with the mental obstacles and suffering that seem endemic in modern life. But you can’t arrive at a goal without a vision, and if a person’s vision is limited to gaining pleasure and avoiding pain, or not expecting too much out of life…your life; begin with a vision of happiness that is high enough to strive for, year after year. In my experience, the people who do that wind up being much happier than they ever supposed they could be.”
Martha Beck, a therapist, a well-known Life Coach, and a best selling author, most recently wrote: Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want; she was asked to put together a list of the 20 most important questions we should be asking ourselves. She said she found this task to be overwhelming and instead choose to “pass the buck”, and ask her followers for the questions. She then went through all the questions that came back to her, and created the list of 20 out of those questions asked and answered those. Many of the questions she received back were very much about Happiness. Below are several of those question and answers:
Is this what I want to be doing?
A: This very moment is, always, the only moment in which you can make changes. Knowing which changes are best for you comes, always, from assessing what you feel. Ask yourself many times every day if you like what you’re doing. If the answer is no, start noticing what you’d prefer. Thus begins the resolution.