Happy people live longer!

Happy people live longer!

Here’s some great news for those of us doing what we can to boost our happpiness!

NB: thanks to the Ken Pope listserve for posting this article summary…

Tomorrow’s issue of *Science* (Vol. 331 no. 6017; February 4) includes an article: “Happy People Live Longer.”

The author is  Bruno S. Frey.

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

There is a longstanding idea that happiness causes people to live longer, healthier lives.

However, convincing evidence that subjective well-being (the more scholarly term for happiness) contributes to longevity and health has not been available.

Recently, however, social psychologists Diener and Chan (1) showed that many kinds of studies, using different methods, conclude that happiness has a positive causal effect on longevity and physiological health.


 For example, a meta-analysis (3) based on 24 studies estimated that happy people live 14% longer than persons who report that they are unhappy.

In a survey of people living in industrial countries, happier people enjoy an increased longevity of between 7.5 and 10 years (4).

Happier people are also less likely to commit suicide, and they are less often the victims of accidents.

How can researchers measure the influence of happiness on physical health and longevity?

One important method is the longitudinal study, in which investigators follow individuals over many years, to identify whether the happier ones live longer.

The “nun study” (5) has become particularly famous.

Nuns are well suited for a longevity study because they live under very similar conditions.

Before young women entered a monastery, researchers asked them about their subjective happiness level.

Those who perceived themselves to be happier died at a median age of

93.5 years.

Researchers can also examine how external, or exogenous, factors that induce changes in happiness are related to specific physiological processes known to affect health and longevity.

[end excerpts]