By Emily Murray
While there are many benefits to being happy in general, perhaps many of us have overlooked one of the largest bonuses. According to a new study, those who are happy actually live longer than those who aren’t. In fact, happy people’s lives many even be extended by as much as 35%.
Now that is something to smile about!
This new information was released as part of the findings of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In order to find out how mood impacts overall health, participants of this British study ranged in age from 52-79 and in total, there were 3,853 people. The strange part of this study is in how it was conducted. Rather than studying these participants for any particular length of time, checking in with them on their feelings frequently as one might think researchers would do, the participants were asked about their feelings several times in one particular day and then their health was watched over the years.
Five years after the study began, researchers looked at the number of those who had died throughout the time of the study and then controlled for factors like age, gender, health, wealth, education and marital statues. The result was that those who reported “feeling the happiest” had a 35% reduced risk of dying when compared to those who reported the least amount of happiness.
While the way the study was conducted may seem a bit unorthodox when compared to the study types we are generally used to hearing about, the co-author of the study was quoted in USAToday explaining the logic behind this type of testing.
“This approach “gets closer to measuring how people actually feel” rather than relying on recollections or general questions about well-being, says epidemiologist Andrew Steptoe, a psychology professor at University College in London, who co-authored the study.”
While the participants were only asked about their mood over a short time period, researchers find that this is still enough to reflect the general happiness of a person. Based on many different factors some people are naturally happier than others while other people must fight a bit harder to be happy each day. But according to these statistics, it may well be worth the battle!
When questioned about the possibility of the people in the survey simply “having a bad day,” at the time they were surveyed, researchers have explained that the study consisted of enough people to account for this. Had it been a smaller sample size, this may have more easily skewed the results.
Another aspect of the test that many of us can relate to is this – most people reported being least happy around 7 a.m. when they woke up and most happy around 7 p.m. as the day came to a close.