Research – Health and Happiness 2017-01-13T13:39:27+00:00

Research – Health and Happiness

Can we be happy when we’re really ill?

Erik Angner, associate professor at George Mason University, worked with an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Chicago and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. They questioned 383 people about various aspects of their health and their degree of happiness.

Their study concluded that happiness depended, not on how ill people were, but rather by how much their illness disrupted their daily lives. So some serious conditions such as cancer can have a surprisingly small effect on happiness, whereas non-life-threatening conditions like rheumatoid arthritis tend to have a bigger impact on happiness.

Read the research:

Daily Functioning, Health Status, and Happiness in Older Adults (Abstract Only)

A summary of the research: Can you be ill and Still be Happy?

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text from our footnote* into your browser top bar)

Silke Hoppe from the University of Amsterdam examined the happiness levels of people who were suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. Many people who suffer from a disability or are diagnosed with a serious illness start to adapt and compensate by deriving pleasure from other parts of their lives. This phenomenon has been called “well-being with illness” or resilience. Silke’s research concluded that people with a chronic illness can experience happiness not only in spite of illness, but also as a consequence of it.

Read the research:

Chronic Illness as a Source of Happiness

Further Interesting Research

There’s a lot of research to show that happiness is good for your health – here’s just a couple:

Andrew Steptoe and Jane Wardle from University College London, UK, have linked everyday happiness with healthier levels of important body chemicals, such as the stress hormone cortisol. They studied 216 middle-aged men and women living in London. They were asked to rate how happy they had been feeling at various points during their working or leisure days. At these points, their heart rates and blood pressures were also measured by an automated system. Saliva samples were also taken from the volunteers to test levels of the stress hormone cortisol. On one occasion, the subjects were invited into the lab and given a “mildly stressful” task to perform while their biological responses were measured.

Individuals who said they were happy nearly every time had lower blood pressure and lower levels of a blood protein called fibrinogen following the stressful task. High concentrations of this chemical can signal future coronary heart disease problems.

Read the research summarised for the New Scientist:

Happiness Helps People Stay Healthy

Laura Kubzansky, a professor at Harvard School of Public Health, and Rebecca Thurston, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, worked on a study that followed more than 6,000 men and women, aged 25 to 74, for 20 years.  They found that emotional vitality—a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Read the research:

Emotional Vitality and Incident Coronary Heart Disease

Footnote*

(If you have any problems following links in our research, then please copy and paste the text below relating to the article you wish to see into your browser top bar)

Erik Angner, associate professor at George Mason University
Daily Functioning, Health Status, and Happiness in Older Adults (Abstract Only)
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257589396_Daily_Functioning_Health_Status_and_Happiness_in_Older_Adults

A summary of the research: Can you be ill and Still be Happy?
http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/mind-body/article/can-you-be-ill-and-still-happy

Silke Hoppefrom the University of Amsterdam
Chronic Illness as a Source of Happiness
http://hcs.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/hcs/article/download/138/174

Andrew Steptoe and Jane Wardle
Happiness Helps People Stay Healthy
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7282-happiness-helps-people-stay-healthy/

Laura Kubzansky and Rebecca Thurston
Emotional Vitality and Incident Coronary Heart Disease
http://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Emotional-Vitality-and-Incident-Coronary-Herat-Disease.pdf