Being happy and healthy is commonly seen as a key to success, but can the state of being happy actually improve your health? The impact of negative mental conditions (e.g. depression, addiction, and stress) on our well-being are standard topics of inquiry, but recently there has been increased scientific focus on the direct impact of happiness on the human brain. Known as "positive affect", this body of research aims to understand the biological basis for the impact of positive psychology on our physiological state.
Early research has shown that there are significant similarities in the subjective experiences and beliefs held by both happy and healthy people. While the brain is complex and authentic happiness is not made by a single chemical alone, there is evidence to suggest a link between the experience of happiness and the release of neurotransmitters and hormones linked to better health through:
- Stimulating the growth of nerve connections
- Improving cognition by increasing mental productivity
- Improving our ability to analyze and think
- Enhancing our view of our surroundings
- Increasing attentiveness
- Even more happy thoughts
Creating joyful experiences in your life is always a worthy goal, and this scientific linkage further demonstrates the clear value of maintaining a positive mental state. While "The Science of Happiness" has been explored before on this blog (did you know happiness is maximized at 13.9°C or 57°F?), there is also an art to happiness that can have an equal influence on your body’s health. Applying the science of positive psychology to your everyday experiences by shifting your mindset to focus on positive affect can help you sustain authentic happiness, joyful living, and all the associated biological benefits. As science continues to confirm, opting for happiness by learning to take a Solution-Focused approach to life can transform your health: physically, mentally, and spiritually.