Many scientists believe that feelings of happiness make us comfortable for a good reason. They argue that a scientific link exists between positive emotions and good health, in an attempt to explain the biological effects of happiness on one's well-being.
Jack P. Shonkoff, professor of Child Health and Development at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), explains that early childhood “toxic stress” resulting from exposure to violence at a very young age, neglect or living alone with a parent suffering mental illness, has harmful effects on the brain and organ systems.
Laura Kubzansky, HSPH associate professor of Human Development and Health, found, after carrying out a 20-year study on more than 6,000 men and women aged 25 to 74, that emotional vitality (in terms of enthusiasm, hopefulness, and emotional balance) reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
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Psychological states (as anxiety and depression, or happiness and optimism) depend on genetic predisposition and background, but instill positive emotional competence in children and provide good mental health, along with physical resilience for a lifetime.
A previous work also supports Kubzansky's survey. In 1979, Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, carried out a research on 7,000 people from Alameda County, California. Those who reported fewer social ties at the beginning of the survey were more than twice as likely to die over the nine-year follow-up period.
One of the key finds of Kubzansky's research is, as she once said: "Everyone needs to find a way to be in the moment, or rather a restorative state that allows them to put down their burdens."
The infographic below presents additional evidence about the scientific link between happiness and health.
Cover photo credit: herworldplus.com