It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that our temperament can have an effect on our health. The idea of “mind over body” isn’t a myth. But now we have some science to back this up.
According to a study published in Age and Ageing by researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, happy older people live longer. The research focused on nearly 4,500 participants in 2009 and looked at the association between happiness and their likelihood of dying by December 31, 2015. People were assigned a “happiness score” based on their answers to certain questions. “The researchers found that among happy older people, 15% passed away until 31 December 2015. In contrast, the corresponding proportion was higher, at 20%, among unhappy older people.” For every increase in their happiness score, researchers found that participants had a lower chance of dying (from any cause).
The findings of the study tell us that even the smallest bit of happiness among older people is beneficial to their health. June May-Ling Lee, a co-author of the study, wrote: “The consistency of the inverse association of happiness with mortality across age groups and gender is insightful — men and women, the young-old and the old-old, all are likely to benefit from an increase in happiness.”
So while everyone is looking for the next big health fad or secret serum to help them live longer, they may not have to look any farther than themselves for the answer. Happiness, it turns out, can work wonders.