How often do you work on your own happiness? We all know that to live a healthy life we should eat well and workout. Some of us meditate, as a way to quiet and strengthen the mind. But exercising your happiness muscle is key, too. Happiness is an important driver towards improved well-being. That is also why it is one of the thirteen pillars of our Soulful Living philosophy. The notion of happiness is something so many of us strive towards, a destination on the journey of life. Once we land that dream job, find the perfect partner, tick off our bucket list, or whatever life goals we have, then we’ll be happy. When, in fact, cultivating a mindset of happiness every day is an essential part of the well-being puzzle. No one should wait to be happy, instead we should be able to find happiness in the here and now.
From scientific studies to our own personal experiences, the amount of available evidence that confirms happiness really can influence health is extensive. Being happy has the power to change your life in the big moments and the small. So, let's dive into the many reasons why happiness is an essential piece of the well-being puzzle.
1. Happiness is good for your heart
Ever felt so happy you could feel the joy in your heart? Well, researchers have gone and linked feelings of happiness to a lower heart rate and reduced blood pressure. Just as negative emotions like depression, anger, and hostility are risk factors for some serious heart conditions, happiness has been found to protect the heart. One study found that happiest people’s risk of heart disease fell by an impressive 22 per cent.
2. Happiness is good for your immune system
That saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ may be true, but now science suggests that happiness could actually strengthen your immune system making you less susceptible to sickness in the first place. Researchers in one study found that people exposed to the common cold virus were less likely to get sick if they were happier. The study also discovered that when the happier people were unwell, they reported fewer symptoms than expected of a common cold.
3. Happiness beats stress
Happiness can diminish the adverse effects of stress, or at least help us recover more quickly! Endorphins from having a good laugh with a loved one can also lower the levels of the infamous stress hormone cortisol. Feeling content or happy with your choices, relationships, or accomplishments will increase your dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin levels. These three are also known as your happy hormones, a group of positive neurochemicals that help improve your sense of well-being.
4. Happiness works as a pain reliever
When it comes to chronic pain in women, happiness was found to be quite the useful antidote. This study revealed that happiness mitigates pain in the context of disease. “Women with arthritis and chronic pain rated themselves weekly on positive emotions like interest, enthusiasm, and inspiration for about three months. Throughout the study, those with higher ratings overall were less likely to experience increases in pain,” noted the study’s author. Some doctors are even recommending behavioural therapy instead of high doses of painkillers to help people deal with chronic aches, believing that good moods equal less pain.
5. Happiness can extend your lifespan
Being happy doesn’t just make life more fun, overall satisfaction with one’s life, another significant indicator of happiness, is also linked to longevity. These researchers looked at the impact of happiness in 32,000 people and their rate of survival over a period of 30 years. ‘Happy people live longer,’ researchers clearly stated, those who were least happy had a 14 per cent higher chance of death compared with the happiest people in the study. Another five-year study tracked the moods of over 3,800 people and found that those who reported feeling happy, excited, and content on a typical day were 35 per cent less likely to die during the study.
6. Happy people live better
Being happy promotes a wealth of lifestyle habits that are important for your overall health. Happy people tend to eat healthier, with higher intakes of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They are also a third more likely to live active lives, with regular exercise, that is good for improved bone density, energy levels and lower blood pressure. Research shows that joy also makes us more productive and friendly, with people who are happier more likely to make a positive contribution to society. For example, they are more likely to do volunteer work and participate in public activities.
Having discovered the ways in which happiness is an essential part of your well-being, why not join our Happiness Challenge? Mo Gawdat, former Chief Business Officer at Google [X] and author of Solve for Happy, and Rituals are on a mutual mission to make #1MillionHappy. Join us on a 14-day interactive journey that will transform your life and help you find true, long-lasting happiness. Sign up for the Happiness Challenge here.