Madina Papadopoulos
December 13, 2015 10:02 pm

Ever read an novel where someone died of heartbreak? How often do we hear, “the key to a long life is a positive attitude?” In today’s day and age, while no one dies of heart ache, happiness and heart disease are often blamed for premature deaths. The perspective that a positive attitude will increase longevity continues to seep its way into media, conversations, and products. But after a closer look at the correlation between health, happiness, and longevity, this view on life isn’t exactly exactly the case. A new study shows that unhappiness does not cause bad health, but rather the opposite: unhappiness is a symptom of bad health.

The Lancet dug deep to discover the true effect of happiness and longevity. Their findings were presented early December 2015, and argue that while many nonagenarians have a healthy attitude, that that attitude is merely a correlation caused by having a healthy life. To study this area, The Lancet used research performed on English women through The Million Women Study. This research group, based out of Oxford, is a national study that follows a million women in the UK 50 years old and over, and its goal is to understand women’s health better, as well as to discover the best health habits for women in their later years. Participants were invited to join The Million Women Study between 1996 and 2001, reaching over a million subjects, making the study the largest globally.

Researchers’ findings demonstrate that an unhealthy lifestyle causes an unhappy life, and that it is the unhealthy lifestyle, not the unhappy life, that leads to fewer years. The implications of this study are important. Our society tends to focus on “looking on the bright side of life” but not always looking beneath the surface to find what  is causing a person to look on the dark side. Health plays a huge factor, not only in how long a person lives, but how fully they are living. So set aside those fries and cigarettes for a salad and physical activity, because a healthy lifestyle leads to more, and happier, birthdays.

(Image via Touchstone Television)

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