One of the reasons we so covet happiness is that it makes us feel great. It can be a tough feeling to nail down, and it can range from a grounded sense of gratitude to a light-headed awareness of life’s many pleasures. But have you ever thought about how happiness could affect your health? According to a recent British study, the happier you are, the less likely you are to develop heart disease.
Why? Scientists aren’t exactly sure. There’s long been a connection between stress and anxiety and physical health; in other words, if your mental health isn’t optimum, it’s often manifested in your physical health. But happier people have also been found that happier people have stronger immune systems, fewer stress-related hormones and tend to live longer lives. Though, it could also be that people with those physical conditions tend to be happier because they’re not dealing with immune-related deficiencies, impending mortality or chronic stress.
The research focused on 8,000 people, and asked them to answer questions about levels of satisfaction in several areas of their life. People who were happier in four key areas — work, family, sex and self — had healthier hearts. Those who were more satisfied in other areas — leisure, love and standard of living — didn’t appear to be healthier. (And it’s interesting to note that satisfaction with one’s sex life seems to make more of a difference to heart health than being in love.)