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Happiness and Health
Photo: Bill Davenport
Happiness Helps Health! Lots of new research is confirming this reality. Carnegie Mellon psychology professor Sheldon Cohen and his colleagues (who collaborated in this research with several major medical schools and institutions) have narrowed "happiness" down to these positive traits: liveliness, calm, optimism, and feeling one's definite purpose in life. So with that definition of "happiness", how do you rate on the happiness scale?

Here's what the latest research has shown. The researchers interviewed volunteers over the course of several weeks, assessing their moods, attitudes, and emotional styles. The volunteers were then infected with either the rhinovirus or an influenza virus and quarantined to observe whether they would come down with a cold or the flu.

Guess what? The people who described themselves as "happy", reporting the positive emotions mentioned above, were not only less likely to catch colds, but also reported fewer symptoms when they did get sick (regardless of any other factors such as levels of those emotional elements or age, race, gender, education, etc.).

Bottom line? Dr. Cohen states: "We need to take more seriously the possibility that positive emotional style is a major player in disease risk."

Mind Affects Body and Vice Versa

That's why the spiritual journey is so vital to life. We neglect it to our detriment. Spirituality, which impacts our emotional health, also impacts our physical well-being. That's because spirituality is holistic—what affects our mind and heart and spirit affects our bodies and vice versa.

The Bible actually makes that mind-body correlation when it says, "For as [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he."  (Proverbs 23:7). The contemporary saying is, "We are what we think." Computer techies say, "Garbage in, garbage out." Our minds have great effect over our bodies. Our emotional state impacts our physical experience. And vice versa. It's a pretty solid connection.

Happiness helps health. The implication is intriguing and instructive: doing something positive to strengthen our spirituality is all about caring for our health (mind, heart, spirit, AND body). Who would've thought paying more attention to your spiritual journey and your overall attitude would actually make you a healthier person (even when you get a cold)??

So why not give it a shot (no pun intended). See what happens! Here's to healthy living!

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By Greg Nelson Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION ® 1982.

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