“The Happiness lengthen your Life”
Happiness plays a key role on people’s health. According with recent studies, happy people are more optimistic, live more years, are healthier, tend to have more and better interpersonal relationships and generally are more successful in life.
What is happiness?
The concept of happiness is an elusive one. Happiness is something very personal, unique and is colored our life experience, family background, cultural beliefs and values. However, disciplines such as philosophy, theology, psychology and sociology have definition happiness in a very particular way.
Recently, after decades of studying deficiencies, pathologies and the weaknesses of human beings, the science psychology has began to conducting research on the positive qualities and virtues of human beings. A new branch of psychology has been created to study the positive virtues of human beings: Positive Psychology, whic is devoted the scientific study of optimal functioning. Some Positive Psychologist define happiness as the human capacity to experience positive emotions that produce pleasure and that are deeply motivated by a purpose of life. Happiness, according to these psychologists “occurs” when person, participates in activities that in which he/she experience placer and are deeply motivated by their personal values goals and mission of life. This is the definition that we will adopt in this in writing.
The Happiness and longevity
More and more studies in of psychology and medicine are confirming something that our parents and grandparents already knew intuitively: happiness prevents diseases, and improves the quality of life, and lengthens people’s lives.
For example, the professor, Ruut Veenhoven of Erasmus University, asserted that happiness may lengthen the lives of people between 8-10 years. He came to this conclusion after carefully reviewing the results of over 30 studies on the impact of happiness in longevity. In his studies, Professor Veehoven, found that happy people tend to be more physically active, eat healthier food, and in general have a healthy lifestyle. . In addition, happy people tend to be more sociable, to have a healthy self-esteem and make better decisions about their health care.
Also, Erik J. Giltay, MD, Ph.D., of Psychiatric Center GGZ Delfland, in Holland, has found that happy and optimistic people get sick less often. Also,
Also, studies conducted in Medical Unit at the University of Texas, have confirmed the benefits of positive emotions and happiness and their role in reducing blood pressure in Mexico-Americans adult males diagnosed with high blood pressure. All these studies confirm the power of happiness in legthening our lives.
But perhaps the strongest evidence of the impact of happiness and longevity is the longitudinal study of nuns from a convent in an US city. In this study, researchers at the University of Ann Arbor, carefully review the personal diaries of 180 nuns, wrote as adolescent while living in the convent. In these journals, future nuns expressed their reasons for devoting their lives to serve to the church.
A team of researchers studied in detail the dairies in an attempt to discover whether there was any relationship between possessing a rich vocabulary during the young life and the risk of developing Alzheimer in their adult life. Their hypothesis was that possessing rich vocabulary in the youth life lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer in adulthood. However, what they found was very surprising: those nuns who in their youth described their experience in the convent with positive, joyful, and encouraging word lived on average 10 years more that the nuns wrote a less positive words in their journals. This study is particularly relevant and credible, since all the nuns lived in the same environment, and were exposed to the same conditions such as quality of food, routine activities, and so on; elements that are also associated with health and longevity of people.
Happiness, positive emotions and longevity
Barbara Fredrickson, associate professor at the University of Michigan, continued exploring the impact of positive emotions and their impact on the health and well being of individuals. In analyzing in detail why some nuns lived longer that other, professor Fredrickson found that:
1. Positive emotions eliminate the toxic effect that negative emotions such as stress and anxiety have on the health of the people.
2. Positive emotions such as joy and happiness have the capacity of promoting a clearer thinking; this prepares them to cope with negative emotions in a positive way.
According to Barbara Fredrickson, happiness and in general, positive emotions, have two elements have important functions in people: remove toxic emotions and make them stronger emotionally. These two elements combined protect individuals to get sick and potentially extending their lives.
Is Happiness something that we were born with or it is it something that is learned?
But what are born happy? Is it in genes? Or it is learned over time? Is there a scientifically proven method to help people to cultivate and develop their happiness? I will try to answer these questions in the remainder of this writing.
The Happiness is like a muscle that can grow
Preliminary results of some studies have concluded that while there is a genetic predisposition to happiness in people it can be altered depending environmental factors, family history and culture. And what it is more, they also suggest that “Happiness can be cultivated, developed by practicing certain exercises.
These findings are in contrast to the pessimistic view that has dominated the psychology for hundreds of years, that is that genetic influences and childhood are destiny and that little can be done to change them and the most that a person can do is to learn to live with those “conditions or deficiencies.
“Positive Psychology” proposes a more hopeful and optimistic view of happiness. From their perspective, happiness is a human capacity that can be learned, cultivated and developed. In other words, this is what do they suggest:
A. Happiness can be cultivated and developed; and furthermore,
B. If you want, and work with discipline and consistency, it is possible counteract the our genetic predispositions to happiness and our childhood experiences that shaped our ability to be happy
If happiness is like a muscle How can we cultivate it and make it grow?
For the past few years, researchers have developed, evaluated a series of strategies to grow the happiness muscle. In the next section I am presenting a list of these strategies
1. Practice Gratitude– Learn to appreciate and enjoy the things you have
2. Learn to “savor the joys of life” – focus your attention in the positive experiences that you live during the day. Give your self the opportunity to savoring these experiences and to enjoy deeply their positive impact on you
3. Cultivate you optimism- Learn to see the glass half full and to view you life in a positive light
4. Learn to forgive and forget-Learn to forgive the acts of those who have offended you. The forgive others frees you of a burden of resentment, frustration and anger and allows you to experience joy and happiness.
5. Learn something new every day– look for opportunities to nurture your mind and your spirit. Fill your life with small and big new experiences. Learn new skills
6. Cultivate your relationships– Take time to cultivate your relationship with your loved ones-every day grows and strengthens connection with family, friends
7. Use your capacity to think to create positive reality- Use your thinking and your imagination to create, nice, optimistic and hopeful thoughts do not let your imagination overwhelmed you with negative, depressing thoughts about your life.
8. Practice acts of kindness – Do well to others
9. Practice spirituality – Whether you’re Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, practiced practice meditation, reflection and silence this will allow you to connect with the divine creative force. Practice charities
10. Work on accomplishing your goals- Works every day on doing little things to accomplish your goals and dreams-Invest your time and energy to work on the realization of your dreams personal, family, professionals.
11. Nourishes your body-practice exercise, meditate smiles a lot, and rested enough.
For the next few blogs, I will introduce some, simple but effective exercises that will help you to cultivate and strengthen your own happiness.
Do not forget, every day, every moment, look opportunities to cultivate your happiness. This will increase you happiness dramatically. And this you will be improving your quality of life, your personal well-being, your health and increasing the possibilities of extending your life.
Veenhoven et al. Healthy happiness: effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventive health care. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2008; 9 (3): 449 DOI: 10.1007/s10902-006-9042-1
Carnegie Mellon University (2006, November 8). Happy People Are Healthier, Psychologist Says. Science Daily.
BMC Cancer (2008, August 22). Positive Thinking May Protect Against Breast Cancer. ScienceDaily.