happy people

  1. Happy people live longer

    It's the attitude adjustment that could save your life: A new study finds that happy people live longer -- which means a smile might turn out to be the cheapest, safest, and easiest longevity-booster on the planet.

    Can you think of any drug or supplement that can slash your risk of a premature death by 35 percent? I can't -- but the study of 3,800 people between the ages of 52 and 79 found that happiness did just that, even after adjusting for age, gender, depression and other health and lifestyle risks.

    All told, just 3.6 percent of the happiest people died during the five-year study -- versus 4.6 percent of those who had average levels of happiness and 7.3 percent of those who were unhappy.

    The volunteers also answered questions about fear, anxiety and worry -- but none of those other attitudes seemed to have any effect on who lived and who died.

    Just happiness -- although it could also be that the very things that make us happy also help us to live longer.

    Married people, for example, live longer... and people who've been married a long time tend to be happier than those who are alone (even if we might joke otherwise).

    Happier people also have a tighter circle of friends -- something that's also known to boost both longevity and happiness.

    On the other hand, attitude alone really can have a direct and measurable impact on health, like a study a couple of years back that found happy people have a 22 percent lower risk of heart disease.

    Another study I told you about over the summer found that an attitude closely linked to happiness -- optimism -- slashed the risk of a stroke.

    And last year, researchers found that the most disagreeable people were more likely to have thicker carotid arteries -- which would explain that increase in stroke risk, not to mention the thick bulging neck veins seen on angry cartoon characters.

    I know changing your attitude is easier said than done -- especially if you have years of experience in the grouch department. But while it's difficult, it's not impossible -- and if you can pull it off, it might just save your life.

  2. A little appreciation has big benefits

    It looks like the little things really do mean a lot.

    Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that people who take time to savor all the little victories and high points of each day, no matter how minor, are more likely to be happier overall.

    Not only that, but they also enjoy better success at home, at work and in their relationships, and they're better at overcoming challenges, according to the study, which was published in July in the journal Emotion.

    That's a long list of potential benefits for such simple acts.

    The researchers asked 86 people to fill out "emotion reports" highlighting their daily ups and downs. They found the people who took the time to revel in the small stuff were more upbeat and better prepared to deal with life's negatives when they happened.

    The researchers say these happy people didn't ignore the low points. They just got more out of the high ones.

    It's a nice approach, and it certainly won't hurt you to try it out. In fact, most folks would do well to appreciate life's smaller moments a little more.

    But don't expect this approach to cure depression or treat any other mental conditions. These are most often a result of nutritional or hormonal deficiencies, and these deficiencies need to be corrected in order to get yourself back on track and feeling good about life.

    It's important to remember that for true cases of depression and anxiety, the drugs provided by Big Pharma do little to heal. Most of them are entirely about symptom control, and sometimes have nasty and dangerous side effects.

    Instead, work with your doctor to find out where your deficiencies lie, and together come up with a plan to correct them naturally.

    And if you believe you're already in good mental health but need just a little help being happier, it won't hurt you to take some time to appreciate the little things in life.

    That could in turn help you get a better perspective on the big picture, too.

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