There is a strong connection between happiness and healthiness. When an individual is happy, they engage in activities that are better for their health. When an individual is in good spirits, for example, they will eat better, they will exercise more frequently, and they will sleep better.
The link between happiness and healthiness is a two-way street. If an individual is happy, they will do things that lead to greater health. If an individual has healthy habits, they are going to have a clear mind, be able to achieve goals, have better relationships with others, and this will contribute to happiness. However, there is much more to this healthy happy connection than meets the eye.
Happiness's Influence on Your Immune System
Positive thoughts and happy attitudes have been shown to cause changes in your body that lead to positive emotions, which decrease the amount of pain you feel, decrease your susceptibility to chronic disease, and provide stress release. A study performed by the researchers at UCLA showed that individuals who truly feel happy have decreased levels of inflammatory genes, exhibit a stronger response from their antibodies, and have a higher level of antiviral protection. The principles behind this study are encapsulated in the science of epigenetics. This science explains the way that humans can turn on and turn off certain genes partly because of their emotional state.
Studies have also shown a link between the type of happiness an individual experiences and their well-being. Happiness is broken down into two categories. There is hedonic well-being, which is the pleasure a person gets when they are doing something enjoyable. Then there is the eudaimonic well-being, a type of happiness that comes from activities that bring a deeper sense of purpose, meaning, or self-actualization to life.
Between the two groups, the individuals who consistently exhibit eudaimonic well-being are the ones who show signs of better health and an improved emotional and mental state. These individuals are less likely to get sick. If they do get sick, they exhibit fewer symptoms.
So the key to health, it appears, is happiness. Happy individuals are healthier than their peers regardless of their BMI, education, or immunity to viruses.