Happiness and Health – Being Happier Means Being Healthier, Too
Happiness and health are closely tied. This is something which traditional wisdom has always told us. Now, we have scientific evidence to prove it, too.
Happiness and Life Satisfaction Lead to Better Health
by Reuben Chow
People who are happier and more satisfied with their lives might also enjoy better health, said a study led by Mohammad Siahpush, Ph.D., professor of health promotion at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
“Everything else being equal, if you are happy and satisfied with your life now, you are more likely to be healthy in the future,” said Siahpush.
And, very significantly, factors which usually also affect health, such as exercise and cigarette smoking, were already accounted for. According to Siahpush, “importantly, our results are independent of several factors that impact on health, such as smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and age”.
Details of Study
The study team examined data collected from two Australian surveys conducted on nearly 10,000 adults in 2001 and 2004. In the surveys, the participants were asked about various health indicators, including their level of physical health and whether or not they had long-term, limiting health conditions.
The questions “During the past four weeks, have you been a happy person?” and “All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life?” were used to assess happiness and life satisfaction respectively.
The results were satisfying and happy news. “We found strong evidence that both happiness and life satisfaction have an effect on our indicators of health,” Siahpush said.
Happiness and life satisfaction, as assessed at the baseline survey, both brought about better health three years later, as indicated by three factors: excellent, good or very good health; absence of long-term and limiting health concerns; as well as better levels of overall physical health.
On top of that, the results of the study suggested the possibility that improving levels of happiness or satisfaction with life might also give rise to better health in the future. “There are indications that as you become happier and more satisfied with your life, you tend to become healthier as well,” Siahpush added.
One very poignant fact of these findings is that greater happiness and life satisfaction can actually translate to better health in as short a timeframe as three years.
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