We all know that being happy makes us feel good and that stress makes us feel bad. And we even know that chronic stress can lead to all kinds of health complications. However, most of us have never bothered to explore the link between happiness and our long-term health.
What is the true impact of happiness on our bodies and minds? We’ll try to answer that question here.
Being happy will significantly impact your heart health, a study has even shown that there is a link between being happy and lower blood pressure.
Happiness also has a positive impact on heart rate variability, which is the interval between two heartbeats. This can, in turn, lower your risk of developing coronary artery disease too.
Scientists believe that the happy hormones and the exuberant feelings that come with joy protect the heart and keep it beating healthier for longer.
The way we live our lives can significantly impact the immune system. If we don’t get enough sleep, fail to exercise enough, and eat a diet poor in nutrients, it won’t be as adept at protecting us from all the bacteria and viruses that plague the modern world.
However, how happy we feel can give the immune system a boost as well. In a 2003 experiment, people were exposed to the common cold, after which they were to remain in quarantine. Those who felt happiest were less likely to develop the cold, which has led scientists to believe that feeling happy can provide an immunity boost. And while this mechanism may still be a mystery, the results themselves are clearly documented.
If you’ve ever tried to identify the underlying cause of breakouts, dry skin patches, psoriasis or eczema flare-ups, you may have discovered that your mood plays a very important role in skin health.
Stress is one of the top causes of bad skin days. It can impact anything from acne breakouts to the signs of premature aging and hyperpigmentation.
Happiness is the natural antidote to stress, and it can lower your risk of having a flare-up of any skin condition. What’s more, when you feel happy, you also have that glow about you. Your skin is more radiant, there is an added sparkle in your eyes, your cheeks are naturally flushed. This is all due to the combination of hormones and the improved blood flow your skin is experiencing, caused by your positive attitude and emotions.
Happy people live longer, you may have heard it said. As it turns out, this is a fact rather than a mere myth. A study that monitored nearly 7000 participants over the course of 30 years found that those who were happiest at the outset of the study were the least likely to have died over the course of the three decades.
A positive outlook on life will lower your cortisol levels. This fact alone makes for a longer life, as the excessive production of cortisol leads to all kinds of health issues. The endorphins and serotonin you produce when you’re feeling good, on the other hand, play a role in every function in your body.
You can probably attest to this fact yourself. You’ve likely heard of an elderly person who suffered greatly, lost friends and family, survived wars and hardship, and still managed to stay upbeat and live a fulfilled life. That is the power of happiness in a nutshell.
Happiness is also great pain relief. You may have noticed this yourself, for instance, when you’ve had a headache or experienced muscle strain. When you focus on something positive, laugh, and generally feel happy, the pain is much less likely to bother you.
Happiness can even impact chronic pain, as a 2005 study has shown. Women suffering from arthritis were asked to monitor their feelings over the course of several weeks while keeping track of their pain levels as well. Those who felt happiest reported feeling the least amount of pain.
Although the pain will never completely go away when you feel happy, happiness will certainly take some of the edge off. It will leave you feeling less worn out and strained.
Happiness is probably the best feeling in the world. However, it’s fleeting. It cannot be sustained for extended periods of time – that’s simply its nature.
Instead of looking to make yourself feel happy all the time, aim to feel content in your everyday life. Enrich your existence with as many positive emotions as you can. Your body and mind will reward you for it.