Be happy and have a purpose, you’ll live longer

People who are happy and enjoy life have a lower risk of premature death as they age, according to research from the University College London. Why? Enjoying life can lower stress, and that in turn can lead to longevity. A study found that those who consistently said they enjoyed life were 24 percent less likely to die during the study’s follow-up period, compared with those who said they find little joy in their lives. This was an observational study. That is, there is no cause-and-effect relationship between enjoying life and living longer. And being happy doesn’t mean you will automatically enjoy good health. However, while other factors that were not measured by the British team could be responsible for the extra years of life, the findings do support the hypothesis that a positive outlook is relevant to your future health.

You know the warm, fuzzy feelings you get when you do something nice just because? It turns out that selfless generosity say, buying coffee for a stranger, does affect us in a unique way. For a recent NeuroImage study, researchers looked at fMRI scans to see what happened to people’s brains when they chose to act out of altruism or strategic kindness, the kind where you expect a return favor. They found that while both types of kindness lit up reward areas, altruistic acts also l it up the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex, suggesting there’s something extra special about doing good deeds with no strings attached. (Health)

Those who have a higher sense of purpose in life and believe their lives are useful appear to live longer. Although it’s not clear why, believing there is a reason you are here on Earth lowers your risk of death and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to researchers from the Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, New York. The study showed a 20 percent lower risk of death for participants with a high sense of purpose in life or ikigai, which is expressed by a sense of vitality, motivation and resilience. This held even after adjusting for other factors. A higher sense of purpose in life was also related to a lower risk of cardiovascular events. Both associations remained significant on analysis of various subgroups, including country, how purpose in life was measured and whether the studies included participants with pre-existing cardiovascular disease.