The Dalai Lama said, ‘Happiness is the highest form of health.’
And the studies show that happy people do indeed lead longer lives! This is because happy people are healthy people.
Happiness comes from experiencing positive emotions, such as love, hope and joy and can bring with it a range of health benefits.
Individuals with a positive disposition are also more likely to engage in regular physical activity, developing strong bones, reducing blood pressure, keeping the immune system strong and even preventing some cancers.[ii]
Therefore, prioritise your happiness if you want to live well into old age. Because people with higher levels of optimism have a greater chance of exceptional longevity, that is, living past eighty-five.[iv]
While research shows optimism is tied to our genes, our environment also plays a role. The good news is that we can all learn new ways to be more optimistic.
Try reframing negative situations to look for the silver linings, set achievable goals, focus on the positive aspects of your day, and practice gratitude.
And be guided by what the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, said over two thousand years ago, ‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.'
[i] Sapranaviciute-Zabazlajeva L., et al. Link between healthy lifestyle and psychological well-being in Lithuanian adults aged 45-72: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open. 2017 Apr 3;7(4):e014240. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014240. PMID: 28373254; PMCID: PMC5387968.
[iii] Sin NL, et al. Positive Affect and Health Behaviours Across 5 Years in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease: The Heart and Soul Study. Psychosom Med. 2015 Nov-Dec;77(9):1058-66. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000238. PMID: 26428445; PMCID: PMC4643380.
[iv] Lee LO, James P, Zevon ES, Kim ES, Trudel-Fitzgerald C, Spiro A 3rd, Grodstein F, Kubzansky LD. Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Sep 10;116(37):18357-18362. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1900712116. Epub 2019 Aug 26. PMID: 31451635; PMCID: PMC6744861.