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Do happiness and health go together?
While measuring happiness has always been a problem for researchers, often because of the different ways that happiness can be defined, there does seem to be an impressive body of research showing a consistent link between physical health and how happy we are. For example, studies have show that people high in self-reported life satisfaction (one possible definition of happiness) have stronger immune systems, better cardiovascular functioning, greater resistance to chronic stress, and even longer lifespans that individuals who score less lower in happiness measures. Generally speaking, happy people are healthy people even when lifestyle factors, demographics, and overall quality of life are taken into account.
But what happens if researchers took this one step further? As the saying goes, "no man is an island" and, for the most part, people are happiest when they are surrounded by friends and family who are happy as well. Certainly research has been consistent in showing that married people tend to be happier than unmarried people. Does this mean that happiness in significant others can influence how healthy you can be? Some intriguing new research does seem to suggest that.
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.
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