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How positive emotions promote health

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Remaining positive and finding ways to remain engaged in life is important for health. The benefits of laughter, “life force” and joyfulness are well studied. Taking time each day for a good hearty laugh has a variety of health benefits that are well researched. Individuals who are socially active have been found to live longer.

Scientists have also found that happiness is infectious. Multiple studies show a variety of health benefits from keeping a positive outlook. The link between depression and disease is well known.

Listen to happy music

A study published November, 2008 from University of Maryland researchers showed for the first time that listening to joyful music keeps blood vessels healthy.

Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and lead study investigator said, “The emotional component may be an endorphin-mediated effect.

The active listening to music evokes such raw positive emotions likely in part due to the release of endorphins, part of that mind-heart connection that we yearn to learn so much more about. Needless to say, these results were music to my ears because they signal another preventive strategy that we may incorporate in our daily lives to promote heart health."

Another study, published April 2008, conducted by researchers at Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, showed that just anticipating a laugh can raise levels of depression fighting and immune boosting hormones, in addition to lowering stress hormones.

Comedy reduces pain

Watching funny shows has even been found to help children tolerate pain longer, according to a 2007 study from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the nonprofit organization Rx Laughter.

Spread happiness

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A widely cited study, published December, 2008 revealed that happiness can be spread among friends. The World Health Organization even embraces the importance of happiness for good health.

Diabetes and laughter lowers hear risks

Diabetics can benefit from laughter too. Research findings published April, 2009 revealed that diabetics enrolled in a laughter study group were able to lower their risk of heart disease.

Cancer treatment

Cancer treatment has even been found to be enhanced through laughter, studied by Einstein Cancer Center researchers for the benefits to well-being.

A small study, conducted in 2006, and published in BMJ, showed that comedy can increase blood flow to the heart. The authors said that watching comedy had the same impact as aerobic exercise, or taking a statin drug.

Emotions more powerful than money for health

A news release from University of Kansas, March 2009, found that even the most impoverished groups benefit from positive emotions. The finding from a Gallup poll concluded “the association between emotion and physical health was more powerful than the connection between health and basic human physical requirements, like adequate nourishment. Even without shelter or food, positive emotions were shown to boost health.”

Happy marriage

Women have been found to be at increased risk of heart disease from an unhappy marriage, according to University of Utah researchers. The study that was published March 2009, found that women in unhappy marriages have higher risk of developing depression and metabolic syndrome that can lead to heart disease.

Consider the health benefits of remaining engaged in life, happy, positive, and joyful when making choices regarding social media, friends, TV viewing, reading, music, and social events.

Finding friends that really make you laugh, viewing comedy, listening to music, joining social groupS, maintaining a happy marriage, and even laughing at ourselves are great ways to promote health. Take an inventory daily to keep negativity at bay. Positive emotions really can help us live longer and healthier lives.