Being Happy Doesn't Mean You'll Live Longer
We all can agree that happiness is a good thing. But just because you’re happy doesn’t guarantee that you’ll live longer.
And while unhappy people tend not to live as long, that apparently has more to do with the fact that often they aren’t happy because they’re not healthy.
Those are two of the conclusions of a team of researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia. They analyzed information from more than 700,000 U.K. women whose average age was 59. They asked the women to rate their happiness, and then followed up with them for 10 years.
In the end, 39 percent of the women said they were happy most of the time, 44 percent said they were usually happy and 17 percent said they were usually unhappy.
The women who were unhappy were 29 percent more likely to die over the 10-year period, compared with the women who were happy most of the time.
But here’s the caveat – poor health at the start of the study was strongly associated with unhappiness, and the researchers found that after they took into account the women’s health, the link between unhappiness and early death completely disappeared.
The study also found that some unhealthy habits, such as smoking, were linked with unhappiness, which also partly explained the link between unhappiness and early death.
“Many still believe that stress or unhappiness can directly cause disease, but they are simply confusing cause and effect,” Richard Peto, a co-author of the study and a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. The new study “shows that happiness and unhappiness do not themselves have any direct effect on death rates.”