3 Happiness And
Health Boosters

The link between happiness and health

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Did you know that your emotional outlook has a scientifically proven impact on your wellness? Research shows that positive emotions directly affect your ability to resist infectious disease, lower stress, even live a longer life. So how do you harness the power of the mind-body connection? Here are three ways to pump up your happiness and improve your health in the process.

Woman writing in journal

1 Keep a gratitude journal

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough of the University of California Davis conducted a 2003 study showing that people who write in a gratitude journal once a week reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives and were more optimistic, compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events. Another benefit was their progress toward personal goals over a two-month period, which surpassed the progress of those who did not keep a gratitude journal.

"The ones who benefited most tended to elaborate more and have a wider span of things they're grateful for," noted Emmons.

Exper tips

Begin keeping a weekly gratitude journal, writing down all the things you are thankful for in your life.

2 Cultivate friendship

In July 2010, professors Julianne Holt-Lunstad and Timothy Smith of Brigham Young University published a report involving 148 studies involving more than 300,000 people, determining that strong connections to friends and family provide a 50% increase in survival odds compared to those without close personal relationships. The study also showed that friendship improved not just the quantity, but also the quality of life.

The absence of close relationships was shown to have the same effect on one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, being an alcoholic and not exercising regularly. A lack of close friendships was twice as harmful as the effects of obesity.

Exper tips

Surround yourself with friends and family. Make your friendships a priority in your life –improving both your happiness and your longevity.

3 Practice random acts of kindness

A study conducted by Julia K Boehm and Sonja Lyubomirsky at the University of California Riverside Department of Psychology involved a 10-week experiment where participants were invited to conduct regular acts of kindness – for example, holding the door open for a stranger or doing a roommate’s dishes.

The study measured the happiness that resulted, both as a measure of frequency of the acts of kindness and variety of acts of kindness. Those who were asked to practice a wide variety of acts of kindness showed the highest increase in happiness. Additionally, those who performed five acts of kindness each day showed a lift in their happiness levels, while those who spread their five acts of kindness throughout the week did not.

Exper tips

Make a conscious effort to work daily random acts of kindness into your routine. You’ll be giving and receiving a boost of happiness.

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Elaina Verhoff
Elaina is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom in Phoenix, AZ. Check out her blog, Fun Finds For Mom, for product reviews, recipes, and fun activities for moms and kids.

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