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The benefits of increased positive emotions, optimism and happiness extend to all areas of life.
Scientists in many fields have been working, primarily in the past 20 years, on discovering the benefits of happiness. The results have been conclusive and surprising.
Positive emotions, optimism and happiness have positive impacts on health, well-being, relationships, emotional intelligence, creativity, cognitive ability, decision-making, resilience, substance abuse, crime, teen pregnancy, imune system function, and of course, depression.
Some Scientifically Shown Benefits of Increased Happiness
Positive emotions, optimism, and happiness have been scientifically shown to:
- Reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 50%[i]
- Provide a protective defense against breast cancer[ii]
- Increase resilience "We contend that the cognitive broadening that accompanies states of positive emotion expands and improves the ways people cope during crises".[iii]
- Increase problem solving abilities and negotiating skills[iv]
- Have the potential to create chains of events that carry positive meaning for others, positive emotions can trigger upward spirals that transform communities into more cohesive, moral and harmonious social organizations.[v]
- Reduce stress which is being researched as contributing to Alzheimer's disease[vi] and [vii]
- Be the best coping strategies for life's 'downs'.[viii]
- Significantly reduces risk of stroke (study only considered optimism)[ix]
- Improved relationships of all types[x]
- Increase success[xi]
- Research suggests that negativity in social relationships is an important predictor
- of (adverse) mental health in its own right[xii]
This is just a sample of the scientifically proven benefits. Research has found enough benefits to fill several books. I apologize for the copious citations but I wanted you to see that the statements are based upon solid research.
• Improved immune system function
• Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
• Reduced risk of Type II diabetes
• Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease
• Reduced risk of depression
• Reduced incident of illness
• Shorter duration when illness occurs
• Reduced inflammatory response to stress
• Increased longevity
• Lower blood pressure
• Less pain
• Improved sleep
• Greater resiliency and adaptability
• More likely to make good choices
• Increased creativity
• Increased success
• Increased productivity
• Increased optimism
• Improved relationships of all types
• Improved social support networks
• Feel love and appreciation more
• More likely to marry
• More likely to be happily married
• Become more likable
• Greater clarity of thinking; the mind sees more possibilities
• Increased ability to see the 'big picture'
Citations and greater details are under the science tab on our website.
[i]Boehm, J. K., & Kubzansky, L. D. The heart’s content: The association between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. Psychological Bulletin, April 2012
AmericanAcademyof Neurology (2001, July 13). Keeping up your overall health may keep dementia away, study suggests. Science Daily.
- Cardiovascular disease is a risk factor for Alzheimer's so this risk is also reduced. AmericanAcademyof Neurology (2001, July 13). Keeping up your overall health may keep dementia away, study suggests. Science Daily.
[ii]Ronit Peled, Devora Carmil, Orly Siboni-Samocha and Ilana Shoham-Vardi. Breast cancer, psychological distress and life events among young women. BMC Cancer
[iii]What good are positive emotions in crisis? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Fredrickson, Barbara L.; Tugade, Michele M.; Waugh, Christian E.; Larkin, Gregory R. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 84(2), Feb 2003, 365-376. doi: 10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1685
[iv]Content analyses revealed that physicians who felt good were faster to integrate case information and less likely to become anchored on initial thoughts or come to premature closure in their diagnosis. In yet another experiment, Isen and colleagues showed that negotiators induced to feel good were more likely to discover integrative solutions in a complex bargaining task. Overall, 20 years of experiments by
Isen and her colleagues show that when people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information. The Value of Positive Emotions. Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.
[v]The Value of Positive Emotions. Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D.
[vi]Ioannis Sotiropoulos, Caterina Catania, Lucilia G. Pinto, Rui Silva, G. Elizabeth Pollerberg, Akihiko Takashima, Nuno Sousa, and Osborne F. X. Almeida. Stress Acts Cumulatively to Precipitate Alzheimer's Disease-Like Tau Pathology and Cognitive Deficits. Journal of Neuroscience, May 25, 2011; 31(21):7840-7847 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0730-11.2011
[vii]Robert A. Rissman, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences, said the findings may at least partly explain why clinical studies have found a strong link between people prone to stress and development of sporadic Alzheimer's disease (AD), which accounts for up to 95 percent of all AD cases in humans. Robert A. Rissman, Michael A. Staup, Allyson Roe Lee, Nicholas J. Justice, Kenner C. Rice, Wylie Vale, and Paul E. Sawchenko. Corticotropin-releasing factor receptor-dependent effects of repeated stress on tau phosphorylation, solubility, and aggregation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203140109
[viii]Joachim Stoeber and Dirk P. Janssen. Perfectionism and coping with daily failures: positive reframing helps achieve satisfaction at the end of the day. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 2011
[x]Relationships have been linked to lower blood pressure, better immune functioning and decreases in the length of hospitalizations, the authors write, citing previous studies. Social contact has also been linked to oxytocin, the bonding hormone, which regulates stress. This is excerpted from a study by Prof. Holt-Lunstad who co-authored a large-scale report on mortality and social relationships, which was released on July 2010 and published in journal PLoS Medicine. The report looks at 148 studies involving 308,849 people. The average age was 64. The participants were evenly split between the sexes, and followed for an average of 7.5 years. They found close relationships correlated to 3.7 more years of life. Conversely, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as with increased mortality. One study, which examined data from more than 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% — an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.
[xi]" A decade of research in the business world proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality-of-life improvements"Shawn Achor, Former Harvard Professor and author of The Happiness Advantage.
[xii]Rook, 1984; Sandler & Barrera, 1984