If You’re Happy and You Know It…
March 19, 2013

If You’re Happy And You Know It…

…then you probably have better health. At least, according to researcher Julia Boehm of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston, Massachusetts. redOrbit reported last year on Boehm’s findings in a review of more than 200 studies focusing on attitude and health. The review found that those who are happy, upbeat, and have an optimistic outlook on life decrease their risk of heart problems. Moreover, their positive attitude might also be linked to lower risks of high blood pressure and cholesterol as well.

What incredibly inspiring findings!

Additionally, Boehm did find a connection between optimism and healthy lifestyles. Reuters recently continued this discussion when it reported on how Boehm and her colleagues decided to look deeper into the link between optimism and lowered heart disease risk. After the review of 200 studies, Boehm and her group decided to check out whether an independent connection between outlook and heart health existed. So here’s what they did:

“The group analyzed data from the Midlife in the United States study, which included phone interviews and lab tests for 990 people aged 40 to 70.

Based on the interviews, participants’ levels of optimism were rated on a scale from 6 to 30 depending on their agreement or disagreement with statements like, ‘In uncertain times I usually expect the best.’”

The results showed that high optimism scores had more high-density lipoproteins (HDL)—you know, the good cholesterol—and lower levels of triglycerides—those bad things that harden the arteries. These results also found that optimists tended to have healthier lifestyles and weight.

The inspiration to be positive and happy abounds through Boehm’s review and study. It is often hard to be positive and see beyond the stress and anxiety of the here and now, but what these findings show is that if we can look forward with optimism, hope, and happiness, then we just might find we have a healthier life and less risk of heart attack or stroke.

Clearly, this shows that our psychological health and physical health are bound to one another; where one suffers, so does the other. And if one prospers, then the other should as well. If we are happy, it makes sense that we would be more likely to eat healthier, exercise more often, and see the world positively. When we are happy, we feel good, and we want to continue that feeling. Good eating habits and regular exercise help to do that. Focusing on hope does the same.

Happiness seems to be a hard thing for many people to reach. It is often easy to be negative and to breed more pessimism. The world around us often seems more suited for the pessimist. But that’s because we aren’t looking for happiness. We focus on the negativity and stress and whatever else leads down the pessimist’s path. There is much to be happy about in our lives. If focusing on what makes us happy will help us to have better heart health, whether through direct connection or simply because we are more likely to exercise and eat better, then we should all want to find a happy outlook.

Clapping our hands is not the only way to show we are happy. To be happy, we must focus on the positive in life. That is not to say that we should pretend that negatives and evil do not exist, but instead of complaining about those, we should look to the future and work to better them. We must have optimism that life is good…because it is.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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