I’m convinced that feeling good has been historically underestimated. I mean really, how interesting is it if the super hero of your favorite film is happy? What kind of conflict does that provide? The relative success of Superman vs. Batman shows that we’d rather see a Superman that is all bent out of shape than one who is happily leaping skyscrapers in a single bound.
But I digress.
All of sudden it seems like happiness or rather the search for happiness is all the vogue. In fact, the National Library of Medicine reports that “From 1980 through 2000 it averaged only 30 scientific wellness articles per year but during the last two years there have been over 500 indexed.” When did we become so unhappy as to make being happy such a sought-after state of being?
In Search of Happiness
Hey look, I get it: Not everyone lives in an environment where you can turn off worry. And simply licking a sticker that says, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and placing it on our foreheads serves no purpose. If the pursuit of happiness was that easy we’d all be doing cartwheels. But within reason, being happy (that means a more positive outlook on life) does have some seriously awesome health benefits.
So how can we be happy? That’s the million dollar question (adjusted for inflation of course). A lot of times happiness is just a matter of being in the moment. What that moment is, is something you can actually control:
- Health – Working out and staying healthy produces serotonin which is the body’s natural “feel good” chemical.
- Social networking – I’m not talking about being on Facebook 10 hours a day. What I’m referring to is surrounding ourselves with friends and family or doing something that allows for positive social interaction and fulfillment like volunteering.
- Passionate hobbies – Doing what feels good whether it’s painting or gardening or baking or dancing in a field full of clovers; it’s all good. And good things make you feel awesomely good.
Happiness is not necessarily something you are born with but you can create an environment that makes you happy. The collateral benefits of being happy can result in a stronger immune system. Research has shown that “Individuals demonstrating positive emotion has resulted in being nearly twice as likely to have a high antibody response to sickness.”
A direct tie-in to this is that happiness combats stress. Certainly stress can beat you down emotionally but it also blows up your blood pressure as well. Again, it’s that serotonin thing at work: Happiness seems to temper these effects, or at least help us recover more quickly.
Oddly enough, some studies have showed that “Individuals tend to be happier during middle age.” Maybe because the older we get the less melodrama and bills we have to deal with. But I’m not entirely convinced. I think no matter what our age or our circumstance we have the potential to impact our situation and feel happy.
And that’s a thought worth smiling about.
This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.