Why Happiness is Healthy
on March 9, 2016, 10:47 a.m.
Happiness -- you know it when you see it, but it's hard to define.
Why be happy? Being able to manage the emotional ups and downs is important for both body and mind, said Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard School of Public Health. Many scientific studies, including some by Kubzansky, have found a connection between psychological and physical well-being.
A study of more than 200 studies found a connection between positive psychological attributes, such as happiness, optimism and life satisfaction, and a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease. Kubzansky and other Harvard School of Public Health researchers published these findings in the journal Psychological Bulletin.
It's not as simple as "you must be happy to prevent heart attacks," of course. If you have a good sense of well-being, it's easier to maintain good habits: Exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, researchers said. People who have an optimistic mindset may be more likely to engage in healthy behaviors because they perceive them as helpful in achieving their goals, Kubzansky said.
Lower blood pressure, normal body weight and healthier blood fat profiles were also associated with a better sense of well-being in this study.
Happiness: Living in the moment
But what about right now -- what can we do to make ourselves feel more positive? If you're seeking to increase your own sense of happiness, try mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness means being present and in the moment, and observing in a nonjudgmental way, stated Susan Albers, psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. So remember: A glass half full might be healthier than a glass half empty.