International Day of Happiness – Why is Happiness Important?
Happiness and good health go hand-in-hand. It’s scientifically unclear if happiness cause better health, or if good health leads to happiness, but there is definitely a strong coloration between the two. Studies have proven happiness can make your heart healthier, your immune systems stronger, and lead to a longer life. This should be enough extra motivation to embrace happiness, and find ways to become even happier!
Good health is the biggest link to longevity, but happiness comes into play. Multiple studies have shown happier people who are satisfied with life are more likely to live longer. Here are four other physical benefits of happiness:
1. Healthy heart
It makes sense that the organ that symbolically produces love is in its best shape when its happy. One study showed emotions such as happiness, joy, enthusiasm, excitement and contentment reduces your risk for heart disease by up to 22 percent. Research show happiness can lead to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Another study evaluated patients with coronary artery disease; participants who rated themselves as happiest also had a healthier pattern of heart rate variability, which is the interval between heartbeats that is associated with risk for various heart-related diseases.
2. Strengthened immune system
Grumpy people get sick more often. In one study, volunteers were exposed to the common cold, and participants with the most positive emotions were less likely to get sick. Research patients rated high for positive emotion were nearly twice as likely to have a high antibody response — a sign of a robust immune system — in a study testing the hepatitis B vaccine. Another experiment measured the presence of a saliva antibody that defends against foreign substances and found happier participants had a better immune response.
3. Decreased stress
It’s no great surprise that researchers have found associations between happiness and lower levels of stress. In one study, the levels of the stress hormone cortisol were 23 percent lower the happiest participants, and the amount of a blood-clotting protein that typically increases after stress was 12 times lower. Happiness also helps you recover from stressful events quicker.
4. Combating pain and disability
Unhappiness can literally be painful. In one research study, participants that gave a high rating for experiencing positive emotions experienced fewer negative symptoms such as muscle ache, vertigo and heartburn. And in fact, these happy participants actually had improved health over the course of the study, compared to those who were in a bad mood. Similarly, another study showed positive emotions like enthusiasm and inspiration can mitigate pain. Happiness, optimism and satisfaction is also associated with improving severe, chronic and long-term conditions as well.
Research demonstrates happier people become better, more compassionate people who also experience more creativity, increase energy and more financial success. Happiness is important because as individuals and societies, happiness is an effective means of achieving many other important goals. It’s also important to our global community, as unhappiness breeds dissatisfaction, strife, wars and terrorism. There is no better gift we can give than to be happy, and to help others find happiness.