Do Happy People Live Longer?
There have been studies conducted to determine if happy people live longer. In a study from the UK, one of the longest-running studies on aging, older people who said they were happy, were less likely to die over a five-year period. And the happier they were, the longer they lived. The study results showed that older people who reported feeling happiest were 35% less likely of dying during the study than those who were least happy.
Earlier studies have looked at happiness and longevity by asking people to recall their emotional state, for example, happiness and anxiety, throughout the day. While these studies do not show a cause-and-effect relationship between happiness and longevity, they do show that happiness may relate to factors that could explain the increased survival odds.
Much of our unhappiness can be due to our thought processes and habits. Here are a few habits that can influence our happiness.
Expecting perfection. Setting the bar for your performance at a level that is not achievable usually leads to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy, even though you may have had a lot of good or excellent results. If you give up the myth of perfection and go for good enough, you can save yourself a lot of grief and pain.
Negative self-talk. We’ve all been guilty of saying something unflattering to ourselves, like “Way to go, genius”. Did you know that most of us say think or say many more negative things than positive? Being a glass half full person can help you be happier. Avoid listening to the voices that tell you that life will be unhappy, dangerous and filled with fear and limits. Spend time with positive people. read inspiring books or watch inspiring movies and TV shows, and even laughing more can help you think about life a new way.
Dwelling on the past or the future. There’s a reason why living in the moment is a healthy practice. Reliving painful memories, conflicts, missed opportunities can hurt your happiness. Spending too much imagining how things could go wrong at work, in your relationships and with your health can create a loop of negative thoughts that play over and over in your head. Not being here right now means missing out on a lot of wonderful experiences. When you find yourself dwelling in the past or the future, take a minute to re-focus on the present moment. Taking a few deep breaths is often very helpful.
Comparing yourself to others. The way you behave and think towards others seems to have a big effect on how you behave towards yourself and think about yourself. Judge and criticize people more and you tend to judge and criticize yourself more. Be kind to other people and help them and you tend to be more kind and helpful to yourself.
I don’t know honestly if happy people live longer, but, as I watch my parents grow older, I see that happy people have more desire to live. If you spend a great deal of time not seeing what is possible to be happy, you limit your desire to live.
As the philosopher St. Augustine said, “Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible.” Make happiness possible to live a more satisfying, and possibly longer, life.