The Harvard Review: “Good genes are nice, but Joy is better”
It has been snowing since morning here, but I am feeling happy with the promise of an early spring, just announced on the news.
Researchers have written much about the science of Happiness in terms of having satisfaction and meaning in our lives. Our ability to feel positive emotions, to recover quickly from negative ones and to commit to a sense of purpose, all contribute to our happiness.
Interestingly, reports also show that being rich or experiencing constant pleasure does not hold the key to happiness. It comes down to our ability to connect with others, have meaningful relationships and a sense of belonging.
Bhutan was one of the first countries to take seriously the happiness factor in its citizens. In 1971, Bhutan abandoned the gross domestic product measurement (GDP) as its measurement of the country’s progress. Instead, they adopted the GNH, gross national happiness measurement. It takes into consideration the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its population and their natural environment.
A distinct correlation has been made between our happiness and our health. Universities, such as Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley, have made long term commitments to these studies. The Harvard study, which began over 80 years ago, uncovered that being happy in our relationships has a powerful influence over our health. It turns out that “good genes are nice but joy is better” for our health.
Feelings of happiness and wellbeing also make us more likely to take better care of ourselves and choose healthy behaviors—like exercising, eating well and getting adequate sleep.
Each year, the United Nations releases the World Happiness Report. In 2018, out of 156 countries, Finland held first place and Canada was 7th. Quality of life, social support, life expectancy and freedom to make life choices are some of the factors used in the analysis.
Here’s what we do know from all the research. Being happy helps to protect our heart, strengthen our immune system, reduce stress, relieve our aches and pains, and lengthen our life.