A review of more than 160 studies carried out by a team from the Gallup Organization of Princeton (USA) has revealed in a “clear and convincing evidence” that individuals who acknowledge being happy live longer and healthier lives.
As reported by the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being , to confirm this association, Diener, several studies analyzed long-term humans, some experimental tests which also included animals and other investigations that assess the health status of people who are stressed by natural phenomena.
“We reviewed eight different types of studies,” said Ed Diener, the psychology professor of the tam, recognizing that “the general conclusion is that happiness is subjective, as opposed to stress or depression and in each case, contributes to longevity and a better health.”
The pessimist dies early
One such study, involving around 5,000 people from university days until they were over 40 years showed that those who were more pessimistic often die younger than their peers.
In other longer-term research, which were followed up to 180 nuns from youth to old age, it was observed that those who wrote positive autobiographies at age of 20 tend to survive longer than those who remembered more negatively their young life.
In this way and with some exceptions, in most long-term studies Diener and his team found that factors such as anxiety, depression, lack of enjoyment of daily activities and pessimism were always associated with higher rates of illness and a shorter life.
On the other hand, experiments with humans in the laboratory also showed that positive mood reduces the hormones associated with stress, increase immune function and promote an early recovery of the heart after exercise. In other studies, marital conflict and hostility in married couples were associated with slower healing of wounds and a poorer immune response.
Diener recognizes that “happiness is not a magic bullet” because it can not by itself prevent or cure a disease, although he said that “the evidence that positive emotions and enjoyment of life contribute to better health and a longer life is stronger than the evidence of linking obesity with reduced life expectancy,” he added.