The happier you are, the greater the chance you’ll have of seeing your grandchildren get married.
How does that work?
This and many, many more questions are what scientists are trying to figure out.
And a happy surprise is that this contradicts that past belief that happiness did nothing to increase life expectancy.
You see, even though it’s fully understood that negative emotions, stress, and fear can lead to harmful effects on our bodies, the absence of such negativity is only half of the equation to a longer, more fruitful life.
5 Ways Happiness May Increase Your Lifespan
But what we do know is that happiness is both a key ingredient to and a promoter of a healthier life.
Satisfaction and knowing your purpose in life lead to happiness which, in turn, may change the way we live our lives.
Here are five ways happiness can lengthen your time on Earth!
1. Happiness Leads to a Healthier Lifestyle
So get this:
Being happy can actually make you healthier.
A study of over 7,000 adults found that those who were aware of their well-being were almost 50% more likely to consume fresh vegetables and fruit.
Also, people who reported themselves as happy with their lives were also likely to get more sleep, which we all know is important for our overall health despite over half of the US population suffering from sleep issues.
2. Happiness Enhances Our Immune System
You know what was really astonishing?
That a study done in 2004 found that happier patients appeared to have stronger immune systems.
Two years later, another study confirmed these results and found that from nearly 200 volunteers, those who showed signs of happiness were at less of a risk of suffering from colds and chest infections.
Researchers hypothesize that a boost in a happy patient’s immune system is caused by happiness’ effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis which regulates hormones, digestion, and the immune system.
3. Happiness Combats Stress
That’s not all the HPA axis does for our bodies.
Back in 2005, scientists revealed that of 200 participants, the production of cortisol was more than 30% lower in their happier subjects.
The amazing thing is that these effects lasted for years when the same researchers did a follow-up examination and found 20% less cortisol in the happy group compared to their less-than-happy participants.
4. Happiness May Strengthen Our Hearts
High blood pressure is a major contributing factor behind many types of heart disease.
However, if you’re a generally happy person, then you may be glad to learn that your risk of future heart problems may be significantly lower. Being happy was found to contribute to lower blood pressure in older folks.
On an even happier note, if you or a loved one have exhibited signs of heart problems, then try to smile more frequently since happiness may even reverse the risk of heart disease by up to 11%.
5. Happiness Reduces Pain
Arthritis patients know a lot about pain.
Inflammation and joint cartilage deterioration only worsen with age, and many people end up falling into an endless pit of despair, anxiety, and depression.
It’s a lot easier said than done, but arthritis sufferers should try and cheer up (our tips for managing and coping with chronic pain might help).
Long story short, happiness and positivity may help patients cope with joint pains brought by the condition.
And those suffering from chronic pain should also try and remain positive since happiness is a legitimate strategy for dealing with painful flare-ups.
5 Ways to Boost Happiness Levels
1. Show Gratitude
Achieving happiness is as simple as being grateful for what you have and the way things are.
Even if you suffer from chronic pain or another debilitating illness, if you take things into perspective, it won’t be difficult to find numerous ways of how life, in general, has been kind to you.
Counting your blessings can be done by making a journal and jotting down the things you’re grateful for before sleep.
2. Become Physically Active
One of the secrets of longevity told by some of the world’s oldest people is staying active.
Any form of exercise that gets your heart pumping is an effective way of boosting happiness.
Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that plays a role in our happiness, and getting up and moving about is a great way to increase dopamine production.
If you have time and the equipment, take up tennis or aerobics – these are some of the most heart-stimulating forms of exercise that can turn your frown upside down.
3. Spend Time Outdoors
If you’re getting enough exercise at the gym, then some good old sunshine may boost your happiness to astronomical levels.
Take your dog out for a walk, or try your hand at tending to your backyard garden. The important thing is to go outside and get some fresh air.
Even just five minutes of being outside can boost your mood.
4. Take Time Off to Meditate
Many people may regard meditation is a new-age alternative to modern medicine – i.e. hippy garbage – but secluding yourself your outside disturbances has been shown to rewire your brain to make you become a more joyful person.
If anything, you find time to meditate to relieve stress and improve the quality of sleep.
5. Switch to a Healthier Diet
The effects of happiness on a healthy diet goes both ways.
If you’re happy, you’ll eat more fruits and veggies, and if you eat more fresh plant-based foods then you’ll become happier.
Even if your aim isn’t to boost your mood, cut junk foods from your diet and opt for a fresh salad for its long-term health benefits.
Be Happy, Live Longer!
You may be surprised to learn just how effective happiness is at improving not only the quality of life but also your lifespan.
Being happy is as simple as taking things in stride, not worrying about the inevitable, and switching to a more plant-heavy diet.
Eliminate the bad, focus on the good, get plenty of sunshine and exercise, and enjoy every moment!