Crave a healthy life? Remain happy!
Happiness and other positive emotions play an even more significant role in maintaining good health than previously thought.india Updated: Nov 10, 2006 17:33 IST
A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University Psychology Professor, Sheldon Cohen, has shown that happiness and other positive emotions play an even more significant role in maintaining good health than previously thought.
The study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine confirms the result of a previous study conducted by Cohen and his colleagues in 2004, wherein they had found that people who kept themselves happy, lively, calm, or exhibited other positive emotions, were less like to become ill when exposed to a cold virus than those who reported few of those emotions.
That study also showed that when they caught a cold, happy people reported fewer symptoms than would be expected from objective measures of their illness.
In contrast, negative emotions like depression, anxiety and anger, were not found to be associated with catching colds.
However, that study left open the possibility that the greater resistance to infectious illness among happier people may not have been due to happiness, but rather to other characteristics that are often associated with reporting positive emotions such as optimism, extraversion, feelings of purpose in life and self-esteem.
Cohen's recent study controls for those variables, with the same result: The people who report positive emotions are less likely to catch colds, and also less likely to report symptoms when they do get sick.
This held true regardless of their levels of optimism, extraversion, purpose and self-esteem, and of their age, race, gender, education, body mass or pre-study immunity to the virus.