In addition to health habits, high blood pressure and family medical history, a person's level of happiness may also be a factor in determining risk of heart disease, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.
After accounting for known heart disease risk factors, the researchers found that the happiest people were 22% less likely to develop heart disease over the 10 years of follow-up than people who fell in the middle of the negative-positive emotion scale.
People with the most negative emotions had the highest risk for heart disease and people who scored highest for happiness had the lowest risk.
This observed protection persisted even when naturally happy people were experiencing transient depressive symptoms.
University of Michigan professor of medicine Bertram Pitt, MD, offers strategies for increasing your happiness in an editorial published with the study:
Activities such as regularly expressing gratitude, choosing an optimistic framework, regularly carrying out acts of kindness, repeatedly writing or talking about negative (not positive) life events, regularly visualizing one's best possible self, savouring joyful events, attending to and learning to appreciate life's positives and practising mindfulness, forgiveness therapy, and thoughtful self-reflection are successful at increasing subjective well-being.
Photo by Myki Roventine