|Be Happy, be Healthy
If you are happy you’ll never suffer from ulcers or insomnia.
Don’t worry, be happy, ran the lyrics of a once popular song. It was so popular because everyone wants to be happy. In fact say social psychologists, our search for happiness motivates a host of behaviors, from success seeking to sex to suicide.
It is a well-documented fact that our body’s immune system fights more effectively when we are happy rather than depressed. When we are depressed, the number of certain disease fighting cells declines. Stressed animals and depressed people are more vulnerable to various illnesses. They are normally self-focused. A happy person, on the other hand, is more outgoing. But what exactly is happiness? Social Scientists say that it is an all-pervasive sense of well-being. Happiness is something, which should outlast yesterday’s moment of elation, today’s buoyant mood and tomorrow’s hard time. Happiness is not necessarily linked to looks, riches or popularity. Says Dr. Rani Raote, a psychotherapist,” You are happy when you have a sense of psychological fullness; when you feel connected with others; when you are a person who wants to give and share.”
“Well-being is strongly influenced by enduring characteristic of the individuals,” says psychologist Paul Costa who tracks the well-being of 5,000 adult Americans over 10 years. His research showed that regardless of someone’s sex, race, age, marital status, job or a change of residence, people with a happy disposition in 1973 were still happy in 1983.
Research has found that there are some inner traits that contribute towards happiness. Happy people like themselves. Social psychologists have found that these people are less vulnerable to ulcers and insomnia. They are also less likely to abuse drugs. They have high self-esteem. A low self-esteem, as we know, is associated with many psychological disorders, especially depression. Optimism is another happy trait. Several studies have found that optimistic people are less bothered by various illnesses and recover better from coronary bypass surgery and cancer. Blood tests provide a reason to link optimism with stronger defenses.
Compared to extroverts, introverts are less happy. Academic Michael Argyle, in his study of British students, found that sociable outgoing students reported greater happiness and satisfaction with life.
Happiness is within. Let me end with Acharya Rammohan’s words about what happiness is. According to him, a happy person is the one whose “heart is so full of joy that nothing can add or take away from it.”
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