Can Happiness Make You Healthier Physically?

The Huffington Post
January 28, 2010

We’ve arrived at a point in human history where our health is assaulted like never before. The phthalates that soften our shower curtains and the bisphenols that shatterproof our water bottles are endocrine disruptors that, research is now showing, may lead to lower testosterone in boys and girls who can look forward to breast cancer.

It seems as though you have to be filthy rich or join a commune to eat decent food these days; the choice of a new generation is between aspartame and high fructose corn syrup. The pills we take to quit smoking make us consider plunging from high roof tops instead. And these are just the plagues of the developing world.

It’s little wonder, then, that our hearts would soar at each study that makes the news cycle by suggesting happiness can make us physically healthier. So far, research has shown that happy people may suffer fewer strokes, colds and respiratory illnesses. Happiness has been associated with faster recovery from minor illnesses and surgeries. And the holy grail of health, longevity, has been linked to it as well.

This is, of course, good news. Even taking into account the unforeseeable and unavoidable threats to our happiness that constitute the crushing stress of life in the 21st century, we humans are surprisingly capable of maintaining a sunny outlook. We can shrug off a bad mood; try shrugging off an endocrine disruptor.

We appear to have gotten ahead of ourselves, however. The truth is, we have no idea if happiness leads to good health.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.