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Is Happiness the Real Fountain of Youth? | Health Eagle
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Is Happiness the Real Fountain of Youth?

by Joe Lawrence September 5th, 2014 | Aging Well
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happy manIt has long been thought that being happy is good for the soul. Many even attribute the positive emotion to helping someone beat sickness more quickly as evident in the age old quote, “laughter is the best medicine.” However, it is becoming more and more evident that happiness can increase longevity and boost immune systems.

It goes without saying, those who are more positive are less likely to worry about every potential pitfall of a situation and thus be less stressed on a daily basis. It is not uncommon to hear of a friend or coworker getting sick with stress. To some the effects are not just mental and can actually wear the body down to a point where an illness can overthrow the immune system.

Cortisol is a hormone released when stressed and can speed up heart rate, brain activity, and even diminish the body’s food stores. This is a natural cycle and great when being chased by a deranged creature, but not so good when sitting around the house or office. Worry and stress place the body into overdrive and wear it out in a way not intended by nature. A run down body means a run down immunity and ultimately the perfect vacation home for illness.

Happiness and positive energy combat this. An article published by the Tel-Aviv University’s School of Medicine discusses the measured hormone changes in positive emotions and the increased immune functions associated with it. Those exposed to positive stimuli experienced a boost in Immunoglobulin A (a first line defense hormone in the nose, saliva, eyes, ears, and digestive tracts) and a decrease in Cortisol. Bottom line: diseases have more trouble entering a happy home.

Get the fountain of youth (and health) flowing by seeking and doing things to make you happy. Luckily, happiness is a state of mind and something you have complete control over. You have the ability to determine your disposition for the moment and even the day. You need to discover what makes you happy.

William James once said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.” If you wait until you are ready to be happy, you will never get there. Instead do something to make you smile even when you want to cry. One technique is to look at yourself in the mirror and make the most ridiculous face or over dramatic smile you can muster. Make 10 different faces before you walk away. It will be amazing if you can without laughing or feeling better. Forcing your mind to think you’re happy, makes you happy. Or it could just be how goofy you look.

There are those situations where you are already stressed and laughing at yourself feels like it is only a temporary fix. In these times, exercise is the physiological way to combat stress. Going for a run, walk, or beating a punching bag can help counter those effects of Cortisol and equalize your hormone levels once again.

Happiness equals longevity.

Referenced Tel-Aviv University article:
Barak, Y. (2006, October). The immune system and happiness. Autoimmunity Reviews, 5(8), pp 523-527. DOI: 10.1016/j.autrev.2006.02.01

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.