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Post  Elena Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:08 pm

Do people live longer when they are happy?


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Almost 4,000 people, enrolled in a long-term aging study were asked to score how they were feeling on a particular day. "We used quite simple measures," Andrew Steptoe of University College London says. "So the 'positive affect' measure was a combination of how happy people were feeling, how excited they were feeling, how content they were. And these were all rated on a simple scale, a five-point scale, from 'not at all' to 'extremely.'

The researchers noted the mortality rates among study participants over five years.

"What we found is that the people with higher positive affect - so if you like, the happiest people - were at reduced risk of dying over this period." The study revealed that the happiest people, in fact, had a 35 percent lower risk of death than the least happy.

The study differed from previous ones in that the people were asked how they felt at that moment. Previous studies usually asked questions like, "how have you felt over the past week?" Steptoe says that psychologists have proven that most people are not good at answering that type of question.

"For example, if their favorite football team lost the previous weekend or something like that, they would rate themselves less happy over the whole week, even though it might not actually have affected them in that way. So, getting at how people are feeling at the time overcomes that sort of problem."

The simple health benefits of simply smiling have also been proven in separate health studies.

"When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you," Mark Stibich, Ph.D., writes.

Furthermore, smiling relieves stress. "Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take action."

A sunny smile also boosts the body's immune system. "Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling." Stibich adds.

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