Practice being happy and watch your health improve
Posted in General Health on March 21, 2011. Last modified on February 28, 2020. Read disclaimer.
Have you ever heard people when they talk about happiness? You may have noticed how it is usually about something that has happened in the past, or something they are looking forward to in the future. But, what if happiness were an option - even now in this moment?
Learning to be happy even in the difficulties of human life is a great accomplishment, but a most necessary one. You see, a recent article published in the December 2010 issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science reviewed the existing research on how positive emotions can influence health outcomes later in adulthood.
Anthony Ong, a Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, wanted to find out if cultivating positive emotions keeps people happier and healthier in old age, so he reviewed the existing medical literature on the link between emotions and aging.
He concluded that, "We all age. It is how we age, however, that determines the quality of our lives." The data he reviewed suggested that positive emotions may be a powerful antidote to stress, pain and illness. According to Ong, it might be that happier people take a more proactive approach to life by such things as exercising and getting a good night's sleep, while avoiding lifestyles that are considered unhealthy.
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Could this be the elusive fountain of youth and we have not recognized it? Studies found that people with stronger positive emotions (such as love, joy, laughter, enthusiasm, gratitude, awe, etc.) have lower levels of chemicals that contribute to inflammatory diseases related to stress. This alone could add years onto your life.
There is good news for those people that have allowed the cares of life to steal their joy over the years. By adopting a positive attitude now, you may be able to reverse some of the physical damage caused by stress.
There is no secret to happiness. It is always available to you.
For many years I waited for happiness to come. "When I get my Master's degree, when I graduate with my doctorate and when I have enough income to fund my dreams, then I will be happy." I have friends that are always looking for the perfect life - when they can get it all together then they will be happy.
I discovered that I could choose to "be happy, or not." The choice was mine, not some external force. I came to realize perfect will never come; there is always something that needs to be accomplished, changed or fixed. But that's okay. We can still be happy in our imperfect world.
There might not be a hidden secret to happiness, but there may be a few keys. Happiness is about opening your heart in the present moment - here and now - and being grateful for all that is good. Find the things that make you the happiest and focus on them. Keep the company of friends and family that have a positive outlook on life and a good sense of humor.
Just like me, the moment you see the truth of this, you can be happy right away. There is nothing that needs to happen first for you to be happy.
Judy Ellison, Ph.D., is a psychologist: author and motivational speaker. She has inspired people around the world to reach within and find their passion ate purpose to live a more meaningful life.
From the Research Desk...
Women's immune systems stay younger, longer.
Tokyo, Japan - Women's immune systems age more slowly than men's, which may be a contributing factor in women living longer, say researchers from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University Open Laboratory.
Scientists recruited 162 healthy male volunteers and 194 healthy female volunteers ranging in age from 20 to 90 years old and tested their blood. Their findings, which appeared in the journal Immunity & Aging, showed that although white bloods cells (immune cells) decreased with age for both sexes, certain other immune cells decreased in men and increased in women. They also found that the rate of decline of certain cells was slower for women than men. Some immune cells increased in both sexes, with the rate of increase higher in women than men.
Wyoming Tips for Healthy Aging...
Tips on menopause matters:
10 things women wish men knew about menopause!
Want to feel like a teenager again? It's easy: just be a woman in her mid-40s or so, approaching menopause. That's the time to say hello again to the mood swings, sleep issues, body and hormone changes that disrupt teen life - only now, it's happening to grown women.
Normal, natural menopause can be a trial for women and their men as hormonal shifts signal an end to reproduction, and the beginning of what can be a most rewarding phase of life. Here's an unscientific tip sheet to let men in on some menopause matters:
1. I am NOT irritable! Maybe you're being annoying.
It's tough to be cheerful and calm when hot flashes shred your sleep night after night, and hormonal mood shifts make you a little touchy.
2. No, I don't have a fever. Why?
When her face flushes and her skin feels hot to the touch, it's probably a hot flash: a sudden feeling of heat in the upper body or all over. These can be powerful enough to wake her up at night. It's Nature's way of adjusting a woman's thermostat. Thanks a heap, Nature.
3. Those aren't wrinkles, they're life experience badges.
As if aging itself weren't enough of a challenge, menopause can thin and dry the skin, resulting in lines and wrinkles. She knows they're there; you don't have to mention them. (Hopefully, she won't mention yours.)
4. Belts? Tucked-in blouses? To accent what?
Even for women who eat right and exercise, the end of menstruation can mean the end of defined waistlines. Menopause depletes muscle, adds fat and makes some women gain weight around the middle. Now you know why caftans were invented.
5. I love you more than ever. Ow! Or Wow!
The falling estrogen levels that accompany menopause can make body tissues thinner and drier, and intimacy a little uncomfortable. However, with the potential of pregnancy gone, some menopausal women feel more passionate than ever.
6. Go ahead: tell me to relax one more.
She appreciates the thought, but is quite aware that she's tense (see #1). How about a shoulder rub or a nice dinner out?
7. Yes, caffeine is a food group.
Low energy can come from a poor diet, hormonal shifts and (you guessed it) disrupted sleep. Separate bedrooms aren't necessarily a prelude to splitting up; sometimes both of you could use a time out.
8. Sorry I'm late; I couldn't find my car.
Memory and concentration problems crop up for some menopausal women. Is it hormones or aging alone? Science doesn't know. Or can't remember.
9. (Sob!) You forgot ___________ (fill in the blank).
Overreacting? Possibly. A combination of stress, poor sleep, fluctuating hormones and worry that she's becoming less attractive? Bingo. Draw on that understanding that makes you a prince. You may not adore some of her behaviors lately, but she's still the woman you fell in love with.
10. Okay, I AM irritable. Sorry.
She still loves you. You still love her. Menopause, like adolescence, is a passing phase. It could take a few years to pass, but look at it this way: you never have to stand in the feminine hygiene aisle again.