People who are happy in their everyday lives are physically healthier than those who have more negative feelings, according to a new British study.
The findings, by researchers at University College London and reported in New Scientist, found happier people have healthier levels of certain chemicals in their system which can result in healthier hearts and cardiovascular systems.
This study showed that whether people are happy or less happy in their everyday lives appears to have important effects on the markers of biological function known to be associated with disease, clinical psychologist Jane Wardle, a member of the research team, told New Scientist. Perhaps laughter is the best medicine.
A lot has been said about how negative emotions such as depression and anxiety can affect your health, but this is one of the first times the links between positive emotions and good health have been studied.
One of the key findings was that happier people had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, high levels of which has been linked to type II diabetes and hypertension.
Happier people also had a lower heart rate, which is linked to good cardiovascular health.
The researchers studied 216 middle-aged men and women living in London. The subjects were asked to rate how happy they were at around 30 points during the day, and their heart rates and blood pressures were also measured at these times.
Saliva samples were also taken during the day to measure the level of cortisol.
The happier you were, the lower your cortisol levels during the day, Wardle said. For men, but not for women, the happier you were the lower your average heart rate was.
Also, people who said they were happy nearly every time had lower levels of the blood protein fibrinogen. High levels of fibrinogen have been linked with heart disease.
So it seems happiness isn’t only good for your mental health after all; it’s great for the rest of your body as well.