Happiness doesn’t just figuratively make your heart feel better — it makes a physical difference, according to researchers at Columbia University.
A BBC story reports on the study, which monitored the health of 1,700 people for 10 years and found the most anxious and depressed people were at the highest risk of disease:
The team believes happier people may have better sleeping patterns, be less liable to suffer stress and be more able to move on from upsetting experiences – all of which can put physical strain on the body.
Lead researcher Dr. Karina Davidson admitted more research was needed into the link, but said she would still recommend that people try to develop a more positive outlook.
She said all too often people just waited for their “two weeks of vacation to have fun” when instead they should seek enjoyment each day.
“If you enjoy reading novels, but never get around to it, commit to getting 15 minutes or so of reading in. If walking or listening to music improves you mood, get those activities in your schedule.
“Essentially spending a few minutes each day truly relaxed and enjoying yourself is certainly good for your mental health and may improve your physical health as well.”
So maybe it’s not just an apple a day that keeps the doctor away. Maybe it’s also your favorite music and food you love.
I especially like what Davidson says about how people can defer their happiness — it’s something you plan to enjoy later, on your vacation — and that instead, you should focus on making happiness part of your regular lifestyle.
I’ve heard that before, that people spend about 50 weeks a year looking forward to two weeks of vacation. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy vacations, but I think it’s profoundly sad to wish away 96 percent of your life to only be happy for 4 percent. Ditto for weekends.
If making simple daily pleasures a priority can improve your health and extend your life, maybe now’s the time to get started?
Do you believe there’s a link between your mental health and your physical health?
Do you make an effort to cultivate your happiness? If so, how?
Read more about this study: