While it's long been known that negative emotions such as depression and anxiety put you at risk for heart disease, there's been surprisingly little research on whether positive emotions prevent coronary trouble. To find out, scientists asked nearly 8,000 people to rate their satisfaction in seven key areas of life: jobs, family, love, leisure, standard of living, sex, and self. Those who scored higher than average satisfaction in all categories had up to 13 percent less risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and angina. That's major.
People who were happier in four areas -- jobs, families, sex lives, and selves -- also had healthier hearts. But feeling contented in just the other three areas -- leisure activities, love relationships, and standard of living -- didn't have a significant impact.
While it's not yet clear exactly how feeling good about your life helps your heart, it's well established that happiness is vital to your health. Studies have repeatedly found that happy people produce fewer stress-related hormones, have stronger immune systems, and live longer. Now it's clear that one reason is their hearts. Ready to turn that frown upside down?
Talk nice to yourself. Is your inner voice quick to snap out things like, "How could you forget that, you idiot?" Trade put-downs for encouraging words; they set you up for success.
Connect. Talk -- really talk -- to people you care about; you'll both benefit by connecting. Get physical, too; hugs stimulate oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone," spreading a feel-good boost.
Keep a gratitude journal. Simply writing down what you're thankful for makes you healthier and more optimistic.
Don't sit around. Physical activity is a significant happiness booster. Get moving for 30 minutes a day!
Meditate. It eases stress, improves sleep, strengthens immunity, and measurably increases happiness!
Help others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, hospital, or shelter. Giving back adds more meaning which is essential to happiness in your life.