Laughter is the best medicine, so the saying goes and it has been proven that a happy disposition is good for your health.
“Medicine and psychology have traditionally focused on deficits and dysfunction – what’s wrong with you and how to fix it – important information when treating illness. The science of positive psychology focuses on what’s right with you and how to promote it”.[i]
A long term study of 2,000 Canadians volunteered to talk about their anger and stress at work. Ten years later researchers followed up with the participants and those who were rated
as happy people were less likely to have developed coronary heart disease.[ii]
Dr. Mark Holder is an Associate professor at the University of British Columbia where he studies the science of happiness. Dr. Holder notes that happy people are less likely to become sick, or if they do their symptoms are less severe, they take less medication and visit the doctor less frequently than those who indicate they are not happy.
Happy people seem to have a better immune system and have a better recovery after having a stroke with both better physical and cognitive recovery. Happy people live about 7.2 years longer than unhappy people, even when diet, exercise and smoking are taken into account.
What Determines Happiness?
Dr. Sonja Luybomirsky is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and author of the bestseller The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, a book of strategies backed by scientific research that can be used to increase happiness.[iii]
According to Dr. Luybomirsky 50 percent of a human’s happiness level is genetically determined (based on twin studies), 10 percent is affected by life circumstances and situation and the remaining 40 percent of happiness is subject to self-control that can make a difference. The strategies offered in the book are designed to target the 40 percent of happiness that is subject to manipulation.
How Can We Nurture Happiness?
In this day of television, computers, smart phones and communication pads we tend to isolate ourselves from physical contact with people. An actual live conversation with another person or persons is much more pleasant and stimulating than ‘texting’ on a device. How can you determine how a person is feeling through the written word compared to a verbal conversation?
Relationships with live people rather than “electronic friends” is so much more rewarding. Plan lunch or dinner with a friend, join a walking group to meet new friends. Spend some time with yourself – a walk in the woods to enjoy nature or quiet meditation. What about a hobby? Even if you are involved in sports or other physical activity perhaps there is something else you have been wanting to try. Watching U-Tube or other similar pastimes do not count as a hobby. Try out something completely new that you think you might enjoy doing. If it makes you happy and takes you away from the normal day to day activities, then nurture it. Happiness promotes healthiness!
Is Your Cup ½ Full or ½ Empty?
Always try to be an optimist even if most of your life you have felt you can do nothing to change your life. You have the capability of doing just that, even if it is just one small thing at a time. Think about what is good and positive in your life and build on those. Perhaps helping out others as a volunteer would make you see another side of life and help you realize what you can and should be grateful for.
Change is never easy for most people, but this thought may help: “You can have anything you want in life as long as it does not defy the laws of God and Nature, you are prepared to give up some things and are willing to work hard for what you want.[iv]
Get rid of subluxations in your body by regular visits to your chiropractor to give yourself more flexibility and improve your ability to enjoy the pursuit of happiness, whatever form it may take.
[i] Holder, Dr. Mark – Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan The science of happiness
[iv] Stone, W. C. and Hill, N. – “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude”