Health & Wellness

Happiness Contributes to a Longer Life

Hoping to make it to 90 or even 100? You’re more likely to do so if you’re happy

By Lola Augustine Brown

While the news might not come as a shock, it’s nice to know that science seems to back up what you probably already suspected: the BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) website reports that a study conducted over four years found that older people who consistently report enjoying life were less likely to die from heart disease—or indeed from much else. The study involved 9,365 men and women aged 50 or over who were part of the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA). The more often people reported satisfaction and joy in their lives, the greater their chances of living longer.

While that’s not to say that being happy causes a longer life—observational studies don’t yield cause-and-effect conclusions—the findings are encouraging, especially given that the link was observed even when results were adjusted to account for the health status of the participants, including impaired physical function.

Participants were asked such things as whether and to what extent they enjoyed “the things that I do” and “being in the company of others.”

Are you enjoying life? If not, it’s probably time to make some changes. Social interaction is key, so if loneliness is an issue, consider joining a book club at your local bookstore or library or calling an old friend to meet for coffee. Rekindle your love of an old hobby, start a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try, or check out volunteer opportunities in your area, as altruism has proven effects on emotional wellbeing.

Photo: iStock/asiseeit.

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