(Mirror Daily, United States) – It may have sounded poetic, but being happy doesn’t guarantee you a long life according to a new study. It may have a link, but not the one most people think.
Researchers gathered data from almost 720,000 people from the Million Women Study between 1996 and 2001, all aged between 50 to 69 years old. All were asked questions pertaining their health, stress, and happiness to try and reach a conclusion to the query. Defining happiness is difficult through questionnaires though.
The women who were defined as happy were the 39% who said they were happy “most of the time”, and the 44% who said that they were happy “usually”. The rest of 17% were deemed as unhappy, as they answered with “sometimes” or “rarely/never”.
In tangent, the women were also asked upon the state of their health, with choices given between “excellent”, “good”, “fair”, and “poor”. Around 20% of them rated their health as being of rather poor quality, while the rest 80% declared they’re in perfect health.
In the following 10 years, 4% of the total women in the study, meaning over 31,500, died. That is where researchers began crunching the numbers and comparing them to their answers. Perhaps happiness is the key to a long life.
Sadly, it’s not.
According to the researchers, happiness does not appear to have a direct issue on mortality. However, the confusion can be understood. Upon initial findings, they found that women who were unhappy were 29% more likely to die. That seemed promising. But, the women who declared themselves as unhappy were also the ones who had admitted to having poor health. Once that was taken into account, the association vanished entirely.
Their conclusion was drawn after taking multiple other factors into consideration, such as age, socioeconomic status, sleeping habits, religious habits, how often they slept, or relationship status. The same results were shown even then. However, there was an association between happiness and health in a way that being healthier makes people happier. Not the other way around.
Women who were happy were just as likely to die as those who were unhappy. The participants who reported themselves to have poor health were 67% more likely to die during the study period. This was the case for numerous conditions, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer. From a pure objective standpoint, there is no guarantee that being happy will offer you a longer life.
But, as everyone would know, happiness is not at all an objective concept. It takes more than a few answers to define it, and transfer such as complex feeling into a simple word. It’s a fluid concept that changes through time. And what is happiness for some, it’s not the same as happiness for others. However, this particular study emphasizes that the key to happiness is good health. And laughter, of course.
Image source: wanderlustworker.com
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