The Importance Of Happiness: 6 Ways Being Happy Makes You Healthier

by Nina Petrov

“Happiness is the cure to all diseases," say the wise men. This buoyant emotion is a great feeling and collects all sorts of different changes in the organism from triggering the release of ‘happy hormones’ like endorphins, to making you burn calories, feeling more relaxed, and experiencing emotions like joy, contentment, and satisfaction. 

We all like laughing, and the emerging scientific research does not only show that being happy will make you feel better but there are a lot of health benefits coming from this state. In this article, we will cover six major ways in which being happy will also make you a lot healthier. 

Happiness Will Boost Your Immune System

Keeping your immunity strong is a key to maintaining overall health, and a strong link has been noted between happiness and immunity. In the vast majority of scientific articles, it has been shown that being happier can largely boost your immune system so that the risk of developing colds and chest infections is significantly reduced. 

This mainly may be due to the impact happiness has on the activity of the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, the axis that regulates stress, hormones, and digestion. The key is that happiness has a relaxing effect on the HPA axis, resulting in reducing stress levels and keeping you in an uplifted mood. 

It Combats Stress and Makes You Feel More Relaxed 

Stress is both good and bad. On one hand, it develops your resilience, but on the other, it alarms your whole biological system keeping you alert and on guard which, if prolonged, can result in you feeling exhausted. This will have a great impact on your health and wellbeing, reducing them significantly. 

Luckily, something as simple as being able to experience joy, contentment, and happiness, can reduce the level of cortisol caused by stress, resulting in bringing back the biological balance to your organism. 

One study with more than 200 participants included a series of stressful lab-based tasks where cortisol levels were measured along the way. What was found was that those who reported being happy, also had 32% lower cortisol levels than those who reported being unhappy. 

Stress is one of several reasons mental health awareness is becoming important, shaking off its stigma, and even has a whole month (May) named in its honor!

It Will Protect Your Heart

Happiness may not be ‘born’ in our hearts, more like in our minds, but it most certainly protects it. This is also why you can decide to be happy and contribute to your overall body-mind health. 

One example of how being happy promotes your heart health has been shown in the 2005 study Positive affect and biological function in everyday life, which found that happiness can predict lower blood pressure and heart rate. The participants who said were the happiest in the study sample showed a lower heart rate and better blood pressure on the follow-up.

Another nice example is the 2019 meta-analysis of 15 studies that followed and rated around 230,000 people and showed the links between the optimistic mindset and lower risk of death, stroke, and heart attack - suggestions are that optimism could serve as a neat preventive medicine. 

Happiness Reduces Pain

Those who suffer from various conditions like stroke, spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis, are well aware of just how bad chronic pain is. It’s the feeling that doesn’t go away, and it’s present no matter if you are trying to have quality family time, are out there socializing, or doing the activities you enjoy. Once it escalates, it can interfere with them greatly. 

Treated with medication, this pain will back off for some time, only to strike you again in its full potential. There are also different methods like massage, heat treatments, or even acupuncture that showed great treatment potential. 

In recent years, however, one relatively new branch of psychology - positive psychology - appeared promising. Its focus is on building your strengths and resources that can lead you to a happier life and changing pain-related ideas and behaviors that are shown to boost the feeling of pain. One study in 2015 showed that happy people were more likely to report lower levels of pain, and that pain was less likely to interfere with their daily lives. 

There’s another kind of pain that also needs attention — the misery and shame of substance abuse that can come from a downward personal spiral or over-dependence on prescription drugs. That’s why rehab exists – to break the chain of unhappiness and guide sufferers back to longer, healthier, happier lives.

Being Happy Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle

Not only will happiness make you feel better, but you will WANT to keep that good feeling ongoing by exhibiting healthier habits. Happy people are known for their tendency to have healthier diets, eat more whole-grain food, vegetables, and fresh fruits, and invest in their physical health. 

It was also shown that happier people also have better sleeping patterns and have a better quality sleep that boosts their concentration, productivity, healthier weight, lower body fat, and a better overall physical and mental performance. 

In return, these habits will also boost other things like your hair quality, so you will not only feel good and content but you will also look better.  

Those Who Are Happy Live Longer 

In the end, happiness is also associated with a longer life expectancy. One study found that people who are in a better mood were 35% less likely to die within the next 5 years when their living situation is taken into account. 

So, one thought you can leave this article with is that happy people don’t just enjoy life more, are more likely to feel relaxed, and experience contentment and joy, have a greater immune system, and lead a healthier lifestyle, but they, consequently, also tend to live longer too. 

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