Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Socializing boosts health, happiness

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

As students’ summer classes and work schedules fill their days to the brim, many may feel that the time crunch requires them to neglect their social life.

But not spending enough time with family and friends can compromise human health, UCLA researchers have found.

“(Social contact with others) has effects on the body that are more powerful than cigarette smoking and your cholesterol level,” said Shelley Taylor, a distinguished professor of psychology. “The magnitude is very strong.”

Click here for the full article.

Do you hear that, all you fellow college students who take too many hours of classes and participate in too many extracurriculars and run around being busy busy busy OMG SO BUSY?

You (and I) need a break.

Grab some friends, sit down (prefereably outside in the bright Indian summer sunshine) and relax.  Talk.  Play around, even.

You’ll be glad you did – much more glad, in the long run, than you would be if you stayed in and studied.  I assure you, with few exceptions, your grades are not that important, in the grand scheme of things.

Money Makes Way For Happiness, But Happiness Still Can’t Be Bought

Monday, August 25th, 2008

http://www.worldchanging.com/2051810786_938f3d3167.jpg

Imagine a ladder with 10 rungs. Now, imagine that the lowest rung (0) is the worst possible life that you could have and the highest rung (10) is the best. Where would you fall on that ladder?

If you’re like almost half (49 percent) of Americans, you’re “thriving” on rung seven through 10, according to the most recent Gallup World poll. Another 47 percent of us are “struggling” on rungs five through six, and four percent are “suffering” below rung four.

Looking into the backstory behind the overall estimates of “thriving” vs. “suffering,” we learn that the vast majority of Americans surveyed (84 percent) experienced enjoyment the day before participating. In comparison, only 38 percent experienced stress, 30 percent were worried, and 23 percent felt physical pain. A large percent (67 percent) ate healthy food the day before, 60 percent did something interesting, while only 33 percent worried about money. It’s these factors—not feeling pain, not worrying about money, and having options to do and eat what we enjoy—that are associated with happiness.

As we learn just what makes us happy and how reliable our happiness polling can be, researchers and policy makers are trying to decide just how much our happiness can and should affect policy and vice versa. First, the ultimate question: does money bring happiness?

Click here for the full article.

In my opinion, the problem with questions like, “Does money bring happiness?”  is that they all focus on just one factor of a person’s overall well-being.  No one thing, like money, family, freedom, or anything else, will make or break your happiness.  Happiness is determined by a combination of internal and external factors.

For example, having money might help you have a good education, but it will not necessarily give you the intellect to utilize that opportunity or the personality to appreciate it.  Under these circumstances, the education purchased with that money fails to make you happy, and therefore that money has ultimately failed to make you happy.  You had an external factor of happiness, but lacked a corresponding internal factor of happiness.

I do believe that it is easier for people with a certain amount of available capital to be happy.  People at a particular income level can afford better healthcare, safer shelter, and warmer clothing, and they therefore should have fewer worries.

What do you think?

-MJ

Marriage On Its Way Towards Losing that Happiness Edge

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Proponents of marriage like to toss around the statistic that married people (and married men in particular) are happier and healthier than the wretched ranks of the unwed. But new research has found that the happiness/health gap is narrowing, not because the married crew is losing its happy glow (though that may indeed be occurring), but because the single component is getting happier.

The study, led by Hui Liu, assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University, used data from the National Health Interview Survey from 1972 to 2003. The researchers found that while the self-reported health of the married is “still better than that of the never-married,” the “gap has closed considerably.” Single women shouldn’t rejoice just yet: The uptick was due overwhelmingly to improvements in the health of never-married men. Liu thinks that this result may be “partly because never-married men have greater access to social resources and support that historically were found in a spouse.” (Female robots, perhaps? Or Internet porn?) Still, single women also saw an increase, and the singles health boost also spread across racial lines to both blacks and whites.

Click here for the full article.

The results of this study don’t really surprise me.  I know a lot of very happy single people (and while I’m not single now, I would say that I was very happy being single, too).  They just focus on work, school, friendships, and hobbies, and don’t let themselves dwell on their singleness or let themselves feel lonely.   They learn to be happy with what they do have and not worry about what they don’t have.  What do you think?

-MJ

Optimism Associated With Lowered Risk Of Dying From Heart Disease

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Patients who described themselves as highly optimistic had lower risks of all-cause death, and lower rates of cardiovascular death than those with high levels of pessimism, according to an article in the November issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, major depression is a known risk factor for cardiovascular death. However, the relationship between optimism and death has not received as much attention.

Erik J. Giltay, M.D., Ph.D., of Psychiatric Center GGZ Delfland, Delft, the Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data from the Arnhem Elderly Study to test whether participants who are optimistic live longer than patients who are pessimistic.

Click here for the full article.

World’s largest health study: We’re stressed, we’re struggling and we like weekends

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

The Gallup Organization and Healthways, Inc., released the first data from the country’s largest poll on health and happiness today, showing that almost half of all Americans characterize themselves as “struggling” on those fronts.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index polls 1,000 people a day nationwide, including Spanish speakers, cell phone users and other people normally left out of national opinion surveys. It’s the largest ever survey of its kind, and Gallup has committed to doing it for the next 25 years. It began Jan. 1.

Almost 40% of those polled said they were significantly stressed the day before. Two-thirds said they had at least one of a list of chronic health problems, including high blood pressure or cholesterol. Almost a third, 28%, said they were not well-rested. A third said they worried about money the day before, 30% said they had a lot of worries in general and 23% said they were in physical pain.

Click here for the full article.

Pursuit of happiness

Friday, April 25th, 2008

[...]Imagine you are a president or prime minister. It is imperative to keep your people happy because you hope to be re-elected in order to make your citizens happier and to run your country efficiently. You also know that people care about personal factors like health, income, education and development in general. You have an intuitive idea that they care also about external factors like inflation and security. But how do you work out the relative importance of all these things that constitute well-being which in turn translate to happiness? We are talking about happiness economics.

Historically, economists have said that well-being is a simple function of income. By their argument, happiness ought to be the preserve of the super rich— the Bill Gates and the Roman Abramovichs of this world. But the million dollar question is: Are the rich always happy?[...]

Rooted in this postulation is the thinking of happiness economics, which is the study of a country’s well-being by combining economists’ and psychologists’ techniques. The goal of happiness economics is to determine where people derive their well-being. Happiness economists hope to change the way governments view well-being and how to most effectively govern and allocate resources given this paradox.

Click here for the full article.