National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Happy Life, Long Life

Facts of Life

BY The Editors

March 27-April 9, 2011 Issue | Posted 3/18/11 at 11:37 AM

 

A new study in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being shows that happiness can lead to longevity.

University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, the study’s lead author who also is a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, of Princeton, N.J., analyzed long-term studies.

“We reviewed eight different types of studies,” Diener said. “And the general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being — that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed — contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations.”

For example, a long-term study of 180 Catholic nuns from early adulthood to old age found that those sisters who wrote positive autobiographies in their 20s lived longer than those who wrote negative accounts.

Diener said, “All of these different kinds of studies point to the same conclusion: that health and then longevity in turn are influenced by our mood states. Current health recommendations focus on four things: Avoid obesity, eat right, don’t smoke and exercise. It may be time to add: ‘Be happy and avoid chronic anger and depression’ to the list.”

This week’s Culture of Life lead story also would be a good place to start.