Do Health and Happiness Go Hand in Hand?

Feb 21

Two nights ago my husband and I stumbled across a growing viral challenge called 100happydays.  Simply put, the challenge draws attention to the fact that in our state of busy schedules and constant connection to communication (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), we as a society are taking less and less time to enjoy the moment, appreciate the joy, and bask in the happiness of life.

As such, the challenge is asking people to commit to 100happydays.  For 100 days, we are to reflect on one thing each day that makes up happy and share a picture that represents that moment of happiness, thus hopefully creating a habit of “stopping to smell the roses.” People who’ve successfully completed the challenge have claimed to: (1) now recognize what makes them happy, (2) be in a better mood, (3) feel grateful for the blessing in their lives, and (4) become more optimistic about life in general.

Well what doesn’t sound good about that? Sign us up!

So we officially started #100happydays!  And in pausing to reflect on my moment of happiness from today (which happens to be playing ball with my Labrador puppy this morning), I got to thinking…if all of these positive emotions result from reflecting on happiness, I wonder what other health benefits might result? Is there a link a between health and happiness? Could state of mind equal state of body?

Apparently yes! According to a research study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), benefits of positive mental health go a long way.  In a 2007 study, that followed more than 6,000 men and women aged 25 to 74 for 20 years, Laura Kubzanksy (HSPH associate professor of society, human development, and health) found that “emotional vitality—a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”  However, Kubzansky is quick to recognize that it’s not a simple as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and notes that social context and environments also play a large role in a person’s ability to get to state of well-being.

According to another study published in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being in 2011, a review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects found that — all else being equal — happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

So how do we achieve happiness? Aside from this 100happydays challenge, how do we really learn to live in the moment?

Matt Killingsworth’s TEDTalk shares insights as to what influences happiness, which was garnered from his research on happiness levels in more than 600,000 people. The video offers helpful ways to be mindful of your own happiness.

Another interesting result of the 100happydays – happiness is contagious! Sharing your happiness and optimism with others increases the probability that others around you will be happier.  So I challenge everyone to participate in 100happydays. Let’s see what we can accomplish for both our mental and physical health, as well as for society, by simply pausing each day to take a photo and reflect on a single happy moment. What are you waiting for? Stop reading. Start finding your happy.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 4:53 pm and is filed under Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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