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The probability of living longer increases by 14 percent for individuals with high well-being compared to those with low well-being.

Researchers reached that conclusion as a result of a sweeping meta-study several years ago. They looked at approximately 150 different experimental, ambulatory and longitudinal studies studies that have been conducted over the years that tested the impact of well-being on objective health outcomes.

The results showed that happiness does indeed link to short-term health outcomes, long-term health outcomes and disease or symptom control.

Also, one of the other interesting findings — happiness may improve our recovery time from a stressful situation. Cardiovascular and endocrine activity normally increases as a result of stress. But the researchers believe well-being may disrupt the chronic activity of that potential negative effect. These findings are consistent with another study in which heart activity returned more quickly to baseline (or normal) levels after watching positive, emotion-inducing films.

In other words, happiness may not prevent us from reacting to a stressful situation, which is, after all, a natural occurrence built into our DNA. However, a state of well-being can help us bounce back more quickly to a state of normalcy and not let the negative effects of stress take their toll over the long-term.

Just remember that the next time some nutcase cuts you off in traffic.

Source: Health benefits: Meta-analytically determining the impact of well-being on objective health outcomes. Howell, R. T., Kern, M. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. Health Psychology Review, 1, 1-54 (2007)

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