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Is It Healthier to be Happier?

More than 60 years ago, the World Health Organization defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Just because you’re not depressed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy. But, if you look in the medical literature, there are 20 times more studies published on health and depression than there are on health and happiness. In recent years, though, research on positive psychology has emerged, and we’re now asking what we can do to increase our success, functioning, and happiness. Although these are all inherently good in themselves, what about the question I address in my video Are Happier People Actually Healthier?

“There is growing evidence that positive psychological well-being is associated with reduced risk of physical illness,” but it’s not surprising that healthier people are happier than sick people. “The intriguing issue is whether psychological well-being protects against future illness or inhibits the progression of chronic disease.” To figure out which came first, you’d have to get more than just a snapshot in time. You would need prospective studies, meaning studies that go forward over time, to see if people who start out happier do, in fact, live longer. A review of such studies indeed “suggests that positive psychological well-being has a favorable effect on survival in both healthy and diseased populations.”

Not so fast.

Yes, positive states may be associated with less stress, less inflammation, and more resilience to infection. But, positive well-being may also be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle that itself reduces the risk of disease. Happy people tend to smoke less, exercise more, drink less alcohol, and sleep better. So, maybe happiness leads to health only indirectly. The apparent protective effect of positive psychological well-being, however, persists even after controlling for all these healthy behaviors. This means that even at the same level of smoking, drinking, exercising, and sleeping, happier people still seem to live longer.

Ideally, to establish cause-and-effect definitively, we’d do an interventional trial, in which participants would be assigned at random to different mood levels and tracked for health outcomes. It’s rarely feasible or ethical to randomly make some people’s lives miserable to see what happens, but if you pay people enough you can do experiments like the one whose objective stated: “It has been hypothesized that people who typically report experiencing negative emotions are at greater risk for disease and those who typically report positive emotions are at less risk.” Researchers tested this using the common cold virus. Three hundred and thirty-four healthy volunteers were assessed for how happy, pleased, and relaxed they were, or how anxious, hostile, and depressed. Subsequently, they were given nasal drops containing cold rhinoviruses to see who would be more likely to come down with the cold. Who would let someone drip viruses into their nose? Someone paid $800, that’s who!

Now, just because you get exposed to a virus doesn’t mean you automatically get sick. We have an immune system that can fight it off, even if the virus is dripped right into our nose. But, whose immune system fights better?

In one-third of the bummed out folks, their immune systems failed to fight off the virus and they came down with a cold. But only about one in five got a cold in the happy group. Could it be that those with positive emotions slept better, got more exercise, or had lower stress? No. It appears that even after controlling for the healthy practices and levels of stress hormones, happier people still appear to have healthier immune systems and a greater resistance to developing the common cold.

It also works with the flu. When researchers repeated the study with the flu virus, increased positive emotions were associated with decreased verified illness rates, just like in their earlier study on colds. These results indicate that feeling vigorous, calm, and happy may play a more important role in health than previously thought.


Okay, so if happiness improves health, how do we improve happiness? That’s the subject of my video Which Foods Increase Happiness?.

I’m as guilty as the rest of my colleagues for focusing on mental illness rather than mental health (though my Laughter as Medicine video is a rare exception). It’s a consequence of what’s out there in the medical literature, though I’ll make a special effort to highlight new studies in this area as they’re published. I do, however, have a number of videos on preventing and treating negative mood states, such as depression and anxiety:

What about psychiatric medications? See my videos Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work?, Exercise vs. Drugs for Depression, and Saffron vs. Prozac.

Interested in other ways to improve our immune system? Check out Using the Produce Aisle to Boost Immunity.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


62 responses to “Is It Healthier to be Happier?

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  1. This is all quite interesting. However, a more iron clad test would be something like this.

    Find the 60 people willing to be part of a cold virus study. Ask them their favorite and least favorite activities to do as a full day activity. Randomize them half and half and pay them to do these acticities on a Saturday (with diaries) and then add the virus on Saturday night. Repeat the hate/like activities on Sunday.

    This eliminates the general I am happy vs not subjective state and adds a true forced treatment of happy stuff vs stuff I hate to do. Still, there are relative differences in how much each person truly hates/loves their activities…

    This would be toughrr to run but even more convincing and harder to refute as a pro-health factor.

  2. Hi. Good to know that happiness is healthy. Dr Greger himself admits, “I’m as guilty as the rest of my colleagues for focusing on mental illness rather than mental health ..”. Please, Dr Greger, start listening to those of us neurodiverse (e.g. autistic) people who have been try to engage you for many months on this point. Talking about neurodiversity without respecting those of us who are actually neurodiverse is adding to our collective stress, UNhappiness & the ableism of society that refuses to accept us as full humans. Your joke about plant-based diets protecting people against doctors is no longer funny when you erase us & simply treat us as a problem to be cured.

  3. “Ideally, to establish cause-and-effect definitively, we’d do an interventional trial, in which participants would be assigned at random to different mood levels and tracked for health outcomes. It’s rarely feasible or ethical to randomly make some people’s lives miserable to see what happens”

    This quote from the article makes me think: Yes, it would be unethical to make people’s lives miserable, but how about assigning participants to groups in which either nothing is done to change the mood or in which something is done to make their moods better? The focus would be more on the effects of happiness instead of the effects of feeling miserable.

  4. No offense intended but I think I may have a refute to the study on 800 USD and rhinoviruses….

    Who needs 800 USD that is willing to subject themselves to that…..is not available money a partial indicator of happiness? Not absolutely of course, some are perfectly happy without it. But really….are those volunteering for a study on some virus being injected into their nose for 800 USD….are they those people?

    No. We can assume they are poor and put a happiness value upon that, indicated by subjecting themselves to this study. I would not do that and I am not rich.

    Reminds me of our current jury system. Everyone is expected to perform jury duty with no pay or hardly any, while all else in the system are well paid. And with money problems childcare whatever…all with money problems are excused from the jury pool…

    So who do you get in any jury pool in America…not the poor that is certain. The system sets up the poor for exclusion. If one is poor be assured in a jury selection you are not being heard by your peers as not a one will be a poor person.

    So it is with studies of this kind. You get a certain type of person to participate making the results less than generally applicable.

    My personal read on the study of this, had a inconclusive result on depression being a cause of healthy result as per those with cancer diagnosis. Which takes a bit the personal status of the individual out of it, as all had cancer and cancer is not usually thought to be caused by depression or happiness state.
    Personally I think happiness is a state that most want to be in. I would focus not on happiness as having a other effect which may be beneficial, but as happiness being for most, a preferred state in and of itself.

    What diet then enables reaching that as goal. Sickness death and all the rest being auxiliary to that goal.

    1. This is one such study which points to my claim…the conclusion is that more study is needed to be determined if depression affects outcome. Some things point to that,but it is not conclusive, which by my read most of the studies show….https://mdanderson.elsevierpure.com/en/publications/depression-and-oropharynx-cancer-outcome-2

      Why are we always considering happiness not as a sole entity to be reached but as auxiliary to preventing mediation of other disease.

      I readily assume diagnosed with cancer I will be depressed. Omitting of course the possibility I am so zonked out by some meds I do not care. It is a normal response to the illness, which has a protective result…in depression we harbor body resources and gather then strength to fight the illness. Depressions helps us to do less which iis necessary to fight a illness.

      Depresssion sans illness, is the question for us all. Depression with illness is a normal natural response that is protective in nature.

      1. Excluding one factor cancer specific usually..if the depression causes one to stop taking treatment and/or meds.

        Other than that depression limits activity and may actually help a patient remediate the illness.
        Not proven in study certainly, but it is certainly not proven in study depression excluded from treatment continuance harms outcome.
        Again the question is happiness itself as goal, not relationship to illness, that is secondary.

        1. Ron,

          All of the people I know with Cancer who went into depression either starved themselves to death or shot themselves.

          Going back to the study, my confounding data would be that I know people who are happy, but eat horribly.

          Is happiness enough to counteract diet?

          Is an excellent diet enough to counteract the viruses coming from not being happy?

          I can think of some elderly people who did every dietary thing wrong, but they were rub their whiskey and cigarettes in your face outliving everyone and seemed happy or strong personality charismatic with a good sense of humor, which made it hard to tell if they were unhappy.

    1. Good stuff at the Abraham-Hicks site. Positive thoughts attract positive outcomes; continued negative thoughts bring in more doom ‘n gloom. To change our reality to something we like better, we must first change our thoughts.

      Methinks I’m pretty much the Pollyanna type. :-)

  5. I looked up the science of happiness because I have read things such as abused children have fewer of the neurotransmitters associated with positive emotional experiences and their brains also have fewer of the receptors for those neurotransmitters.

    I found an article on PubMed which broke happiness into exogenic and endogenic factors and said:

    “In spite of the influence of exogenic factors on happiness, endogenic factors form the basis of happiness.”

    They broke the biological factors into: “genetic factors, brain and neurotransmitters, endocrine glands and hormones, physical health and typology and attractiveness.”

    And said that “Twin studies suggested that genetic factors count for 35 -50 percent of happiness.”

    They said that the neurotransmitters correlated with happiness are: endorphin, dopamine, serotonin, Nor-epinephrine, and melatonin.

    I think it was dopamine, GABA and serotonin, which abused children are lacking.

    Hormonally, they suggested that Cortisol, Adrenaline, Oxytocin “have a fundamental role in happiness and mood regulation.”

    The last area they look at is attractiveness because attractive people tend to be more successful in relationships and are paid more money and given better jobs, whether they earn the benefit or not and they just are treated better starting in childhood. Even in the youngest grades, teachers perceive attractive kids as smarter and better and reward them more often.

    1. I don’t know.
      Just a personal observation, but the peoples committing these heinous mass murders, they by my read are usually pretty good looking peoples. Remove the particular of the moment, a beat up photo a this or that with other factor to make them appear demonious ….they are almost always pretty nice looking folks.

      This kid in Florida this game shooter…;.look at the photos…he is good looking. Look at the prior school shooter in Florida…..same thing.Peoples I see in the news committing this or that heinous crime, about half of them are pretty good looking which would defy any average on that.

      I suspect all these criminals are not happy.
      If I had a ugly kid, one thing I could firmly be happy in…well probably he may be this or that but probably not a serial killer….

      1. Hmmmm, a lot of the spree shooter types I have read about were bullied, plus, have mental health issues.

        I am going to say that I can’t think of almost any “attractive” serial killer or spree killer of any age.

        Maybe two, if I go way back.

        Some have been charming enough and had good enough personalities, that I would have been fooled, but I have only one or two incidences where I thought, “He is attractive enough and has a friendly enough smile and charming enough personality and a good enough mode of operation that I might have been fooled.”

        Never. Not once, have I thought, “Wow, look how attractive he or she is.”

        1. No offense Deb but we unconsciously often confuse actions with appearance. Judgeing those who did bad things to appear bad,good things good.
          To support my point here is a link on the amount of female admirers the parkland shooter has had. Firmly this would not happen to this degree if this kid looked ugly..https://nypost.com/2018/03/29/school-shooting-suspect-flooded-with-mail-from-twisted-admirers/

          By my guess the game shooter will have some of the same. Not always certainly but quite a few of them by far more than a average.For every Gacey there is a corresponding Remirez and a couple more by my read.

          1. I am not saying any of these peoples are fashion models or take your breath away beautiful.

            But really I look around and looking around I find even the homeless….. remove the dirt remove the drug dependency erosion, the physical trauma, and quite more than normal appear to me they once were good looking peoples.

            I just see it every day basically and find the same with these peoples. Not all but proportionally more.

            1. Ron, I tried to post links, but they wouldn’t save, but I just looked up school shooters and most of them looked like the outcasts, not the most likely to be “best looking” category.

              Started with Columbine and looked at spree shooters and school shooters and people who were arrested for plotting school shootings.

              The vast majority of them looked more likely to be outcasts than attractive.

              Young people might have a different concept of what attractive is, but I really did Google image and looked at the various groupings people had made of shooters and plotters and I still didn’t see what you are talking about.

              I can think of a few serial killers who had good smiles and good personalities and who were really good at lying, but that is a handful. Nowhere near a quarter of them.

              1. Well I don’t want to belabor the point but here are some photos from the guy who may have in a way made the thing popular..

                Try to look at the photos without the name attached and tell me up until 17 or so that was not a good looking kid…. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/10/charles-manson-pictures_n_4079832.html
                Sure they show him as he is famous, a ugly heinous guy should have horns….but no he was a good looking kid. Any mum would be happy her daughter goes to prom with that16 year old.
                Charles Manson

                I could easily make the similar case for bunches more. Which considering that press tends to show them all as demons(which they are) in photos could take a bit of work. They never showed Manson as a good looking kid as it would frighten us. Much easier to make him as a demon looking guy so we will be thinking…well I can just avoid peoples who look like demons which in later years he did.

                Nice looking kid no doubt about it.

                1. Ron,

                  You are right. Nice looking kid. Mischievous eyes. Don’t know if he killed animals or set fires or got other kids to do it.

                  I would have been creeped out by him a few years later, but school age, he did look like an average young person.

                  There are other people like Jeffrey Dahmer who had soft-spoken personalities with good communication and was capable of going to family picnics and acting normal while he was murdering people.

                  That type of really good liar, calm, good personality, fairly good looking by average standards would be so hard to not get fooled by.

                2. Here is another
                  You’ve seen the photos with the orange hair the bloated up face on who knows how many or what drugs…..but how about just him before that…
                  Not a bad looking kid… https://www.biography.com/people/james-holmes-20891561

                  Colorado mass murder theater shooter. James Holmes
                  I could go on and on but probably you see my point. Looking over these things it is relatively hard to find a old photo of some of these guys and they show only their later times when they look as they had acted. Charles Manson being most conspicuous in that regard.
                  Jeffrey Dharmer this and that guy…they are largly not bad looking peoples in the early days.

                  1. Manson most would admit was a good looking kid. I read a few things on him and most state that.
                    In action he was a total freak, doing everything wrong and for suspect reasons almost from birth. And most of these guys killed animals pets and such as they enjoyed it.

                    The press wants us to see them as demons as it reads into the story. So most think them ugly by those pictures and at the time of the act they were. But the before no. The chances are great they were good looking kids.
                    It is not exceptional, for the couple I mention here I could show dozens more.

                    Not steller models but good looking kids is more the norm than not.

                    1. Okay, but you are going to much younger versions and almost all kids are cute.

                      If I look at my old grade school shots, seriously everybody in all of the grades looked adorable.

                      Yes, that is from an adult looking at kids and finding them precious and adorable anyway.

                      I honestly know one person who I have pondered whether they are a serial killer. Nope, make that two. One was a con artist who married a woman I knew. She came to me and we walked out of a situation where her husband had a weapon and kept saying he always wanted to murder someone and was going to murder her. He was a charming-until-marriage psychopath or sociopath. She is now happily married to someone else and has been for 10 years, but that first husband was a doozie. Do you believe people when they say things like that? I tend to.

                      The second person was also charming Dudley Do Right who constantly was getting applauded for it, and I kept seeing Mr Hyde fantasizing serial killer coming out behind the public displays of Mr.-Nice-guy-does-everything-right.

                      People who are really really good guy /really really bad guy are confusing to people, and I do not claim to understand them. The second one had the whole fire and dead animal thing going on, though there wasn’t anyone pointing the finger that he was the one who lit the fires or killed the animals.

                      Nope, I am not good with personalities like that.

                    2. A lot of the early school killings, the kids were watching “Natural Born Killers” over and over again.

                      That is the on the bus everybody has to take drugs movie movie a man with two adorable little boys and a girl I never saw, got fired from and killed his wife and daughter and self.

                      So yes, I believe in the demonic.

                    3. Well I can only say you may be a bit less discriminating on looks than I am.
                      I look at old school pictures when I was a kid….90 plus percent look ugly.

                      One or two look as good as the Charles Manson fellow.
                      On serial killers I personally knew only one. He was within the industry so to speak and it was all hushed up upon his suicide.
                      Had a perchance for young women and strangling them was his method. What led to him was surprisingly, he had a training venue in a remote location far from home, and could not contain himself. Which led due to that, to a connection. Same type of killing here same type there, a database exists and it showed up. Hot on his heels, so to speak, he was in the community so he was clued in by friends and offed himself. He knew what was coming.

                      All parties were better served by keeping it quiet. Knew the guy well. A well manner quiet guy who was actually nice to look at. His personality showed none of this.
                      No natural born killers none of that, just a quiet guy who did seem to have problems with female relationships. I remembered one run in I personally had a to do with. A young female and another guy who was actually a known figure in the community. Resolved with none wanting to take it further, and that was a good 6 or so years before his suicide.

                      Not ugly at all a good looking guy. Not a lady killer but pleasing to the eye.
                      So that is my own personal experience. And there is no doubt in this.
                      Perhaps less discriminating eyes are the ones doing stats on who is better looking and getting all this favored treatment is my guess.

                      I have also known some pretty small teachers and such who clearly resent youth and good looks as they have neither. It is a jealousy thing.
                      Beautiful women I think tend to suffer this by men often. Weinstein and that sort I think it is that as much as anything. They did not choose to degrade Jane Shmoe who works at Walmart. And degradeing is what that was. That guy wanted sex and he could pay for the best to perform the best all day every day.
                      But he was real real ugly…look at the guy. All his life child whatever ugly.

                      And who can get away with showing tendency to commit such crimes and then actually do them…a loser who is on the community radar by appearance and conduct or a pretty good looking fellow who is not…..it is obvious.
                      They appear ugly most of them after the acts. If they do at all. Manson did but Dhamer always looked good.
                      So I don’t know, but it seems not always are the better looking treated better nor do they have better outcomes in some specifics such as this described.

                    4. Hah Harvey Weinstein…if anything there is a media bias favoring ugly.

                      Just looked through pics of him from early age on 4 or so one with his brother…..ugly ugly ugly not a one as remotely good looking.Even as a kid try as they invariably did for studio shots and this and that even family photos(the family had some money)…his head was his face was misshapened even at 4.
                      To me clearly this guy was entranced by a world he could never enter and thus served to denigrate it to his furthest extend possible.

                      To each their own I claim. And since most are ugly it is the most to the ugly like Weinstein. You may yourself be ugly, but one look at him and you have to say to yourself…kinda like that guy, way uglier than me, makes me look good actually, like having him around.

                      So I offer a opposite rational deduction.

                    5. It is always odd when people you interact with have a secret like that.

                      I am sure people quiet things like that up often.

                      Just as they quiet up things like Weinstein. One of the people from USC from back when I was in CA gave a public statement that everybody knew it. Not sure which publication, I received the interview from someone.

                      Strange, I can’t even remember whether they tossed me a YouTube video or a Hollywood Reporter article or LA Times.

                      Seems like a video, but it was mostly that he had succeeded enough to hang out with Weinstein and knew about his behavior and didn’t speak out.

                      Hard to speak out when powerful, wealthy people take you to an Idland on a vacation.

                    6. I have ministered to recovering drug addicts and had them tell stories of people who tried to murder them.

                      One week, I heard 3 different stories about different people and ended up contacting 3 different police departments and the FBI.

                      People don’t tend to believe homeless people or addicts, but the stories weren’t scam type stories. They weren’t trying to get the people in trouble. They were trying to not get murdered.

                      When I was in high school the girl who sat in front of me in the alphabetical order class was killed execution style.

                      I know that people can make things up, but people also do get murdered or kill themselves.

                      I have the internal impulse to help people be believed if I can, because I wasn’t believed as a child and it almost led to my death.

                      My friend texted me today and her relative killed himself is what they think.

                      This topic of food and mental health is one I know for a fact to be real.

                      I don’t understand the science as well as most of you, but I know that balancing hormones and increasing oxytocin and neurotransmitters and getting enough nutrition really helps.

                      Going to the school shooting subject. Giving kids nutrition after something like that lowers PTSD.

                    7. Deb said, “So yes, I believe in the demonic.”
                      – – – – – —

                      Conspiracy theorists believe some or all of those killer kids — with the dead-looking eyes- have been victims of mind control.

                    8. YR,

                      I hadn’t heard that.

                      Okay, what I will say is that conspiracy throries start when things don’t make sense.

                      And things like killing groups of innocent people is not something people can process.

                      As far as mind control, people who are mentally Ill and young people often do have their minds controlled.

                      You end up with Jonestown or cults or someone watching Natural Born Killers 50 times and wanting to feel empowered like their characters look.

                      That is different than hypnotism or controlling someone through brainwashing like Patty Hearst.

                      If you watch the documentary “Witch Hunt” about kids who were manipulated into accusing their parents of sexually abusing them, I can’t remember how many non mentally Ill kids had their parents locked up, because they thought that is what the interviewer wanted.

                      Or go back to advertising and politics and mob rules, peopleget controlled into murdering people all the time.

                      Rwanda someone just had to speak authoritative over the radio over and over again and dehumanize a group of people and a million people or something like that got murdered.

                      The Jews in the Holicaust.

                      Slavery or the lynchings in America.

                      If you can get people’s minds to start thinking about it and keep their train of logic on that track, you can get maybe 65% of people to do just about anything.

                    9. YR,

                      Ron brought up Charles Manson and those kids truly were controlled.

                      You look at some of them as adults and they could have become model citizens and he had them having sexual relationships and he had them murdering people and looking at him in the news, it is so hard to understand, but he was “friends with the Beach Boys” and wrote music and lived in wealthy people’s houses and it was also a sign of the times when people were rebelling against authority and the minds of the youth were in a way being trained by the age to experiment and take drugs and have sex with anyone and be free and oppose the man, and police were called pigs and there are definitely ages when people are more prone to certain types of crimes.

                      That being said, I could understand more if they were saying that the school shootings were copycat and were how young people take things into their own hands. Some of them want the fame. Some of them want revenge.

                      If it is a conspiracy, it would have to point to a person like a Charles Manson or an Organized crime person or a governmental power or parental power.

                      Even if the 65% statistic tells me that people’s minds are controlled quite a bit of the time, even just by peer pressure or fear of authority or fear of bullying, for me to call it a conspiracy, there would have to be someone running the show and there is usually a money or power trail to follow.

                      I haven’t heard of one with these school shooting cases.

                      So I guess I am not always a conspiracy theorist.

                      When the story doesn’t make sense, people wonder.

                      I haven’t always been happy with the final explanation of things.

                      I can go back to Kennedy’s shooting and for decades they build a case that organized crime or Cuba could be involved and you listen to people who knew it was going to happen ahead of time, etc. and then, decades later, people “investigate it” and say it was a one person shooting and what they didn’t do is explain all of the inconsistencies, which we listened to all of our lives.

                      In cases like that, you end up with conspiracy theories or cover-up conspiracy theories.

                      The Clintons were one. For better or worse, everybody around me predicted person after person after person who would die and they did get murdered by someone. Not saying Hillary was a murderer. It just doesn’t help when the deaths never stop happening with whoever says they are going to testify against her or who says they are going to release news stories about the scandals.

                      I do not know the Clintons and am not someone who can point to anything about them, but they were in scandals from Watergate era and that inability to keep out of scandals is on them eventually, even if they didn’t do half the things.

                      It doesn’t even matter, because, to me, everybody stands before the Creator themselves. If I am right and there is a God.

                      I am just saying that it is the same for What the Health or Cancer Treatments. Part of the problem came from how authority figures and money figures and Big Pharma and the food industries have dealt with things.

                      It is hard to not have conspiracy theories when you don’t have people just humbling themselves and dealing with things.

                    10. There are so many problems in this country and it will take someone genuinely heroic and charismatic to ever join this country together again.

                      None of my family, friends or churches can eat together unless they all choose the same diet eventually.

                      WFPB is one way to change the world and that is more important to me than politics.

                    11. Ron,

                      You just made me have the thought that I am probably in 6 degrees of separation of Kevin Bacon.

                      Not sure, but you are going to bring up Weinstein and make me think of Natural Born Killers and I have had Thanksgiving dinner with people who were in relationship with those people. Not sure if that counts. I could try from Paul Newman or a few other people, but it still is off-screen so I guess not.

                      I was on a kids show as a kid one time, and said one sentence, so I guess I could try from that end.

                      LOL. Nope I guess it doesn’t work. It is just that someone used six degrees of separation, but I think you have to have been on television or a movie.

  6. When “science” becomes a joke…..and a waste of energy.
    Dr Greger, this is one of the few videos we don’t need…………with all respect for all your other so useful material!!

    By the way, will you comment on the new salt study in the Lancet?

    1. That is so funny.
      Any way to make a buck.

      If they can succeed at having the happy people get worried enough to go to a psychiatrist it opens the market for new drugs.

      1. I am going to say though that I paused, because I have been happy for a long time, even when things happen, like I lost my dear relatives and my dog has cancer and I don’t have a lot of money and he is so expensive now.

        I think, Biblically, it is good medicine and it is somehow that I finally succeeded at casting enough of my cares on the Lord, for He cares for me, but….

        Hormonally, it might be that I am no longer tossed to and fro by my hormones.

        Diet-wise, I might be getting nutrition and less aluminum and maybe my blood sugar is under control.

        I spent months trying to increase my neurotransmitters and maybe that worked or I just got older and have more experience at life or…. their theory may have some merit.

        Their theory is:

        “happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system.”

        Laughing, they would try to steal my happiness by telling me that it is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities and that my CNS is abnormal?!?!?!

        But they can’t win, because cognitive abnormalities are like a shield protecting me from being unhappy.

        So I guess, if I fix the cognitive abnormalities and get depressed, I will know that they had a good point.

          1. It might be like Jumanji and “sleep” might be like the character whose weakness is “cake” and he has to wait to see what happens if he eats it.

            I might have to wait and see what happens if I never sleep again or what happens if I actually get some sleep.

            1. I had the thought…..

              I genuinely might have a disorder of happiness.

              Things like brain tumor and cyst and stroke came to mind as times it actually might matter very much.

              I suddenly remembered a TED Talk on a woman who had a stroke.

              I wish I could post links.

              She made me laugh my head off, because she lost her ability to process what to do the same way I lost my ability to process.

              She caused me to switch to brain plasticity in case it was a stroke and I was already doing Gerson, in case it was a tumor.

              She is worth seeing, because some strokes you just enjoy too much to remember what to do.

              1. Deb, I hope you finally got some sleep. Sometimes we can think TOO much. Truth! Give it some time out.

                Have you tried counting backwards from 100? Concentrate on seeing the numbers in your mind. While doing so, take long deep breaths. Quick shallow breaths keep the anxiety thoughts coming.

                Good luck, Deb. :-)

                1. Thanks YR!

                  Yes, thinking too much may be part of the issue.

                  I am not sure.

                  I looked at the vet appointment on my calendar and found out that it was last year’s calendar, which I stopped advancing in the Spring a year before.

                  I definitely have cognitive issues from some sort of brain injury.

                  I suppose it genuinely could have been a stroke years ago, but it was years ago, and I am not going to go and find out at this point.

                  I watched the TED Talk with the woman who had a stroke and her thought processes were so screwed up in the funniest way, but she was enjoying the stroke so much and even her thought processes after all of it were more “get in the other side of your brain and enjoy it” versus the learning lesson that someone could have a stroke and not be able even to think properly to call 9/11 and she was a stroke researcher.

                  Her first response was, “I better get on the treadmill.” If I remember right, then she took a shower and it was a long, long, long time before she had the thought, “I am having a stroke” and decided to call her co-worker, but had to spend 45 minutes looking through the business cards to figure out which one was her company and it turned out she couldn’t really read all that well.

                  Nowhere in the whole video did she say, “Put a note over your treadmill, if you are having a stroke dial 911” or any practical lesson.

                  I say it because I spent probably 6 years trying to figure out what happened using Google and never had the thought call a doctor.

                  I did tell people, but none of them believed me and that part was scary for a few years, but I would try to say it again with “I really, really, really, really mean it…” and they were just frustrated that I wasn’t communicating appropriately.

                  I don’t know how many years that went on. (The fact that my calendar was a year and 4 months off during a good time period when my mind is stronger than it had been tells me that I could have missed a whole lot of months.)

                  It is almost like there needs to be a code sentence to get people to know that if I say I think my brain exploded, could you walk me through a process as if my brain exploded or something.

                  Actually, contemplating the happiness as a physical problem brought a twinge of fear tonight. Not because of the health issue, because of the people just not being sensitive or there for me. I am praying God will help change that, but I think it was set in motion when I was being abused as a child.

                  Nobody wants to touch things with a ten-foot pole and I understand that. I just do not know what will happen in the future.

                  Christianity has been training me to trust God and stay in the present time and cast my cares upon Him, for He cares for me, but these years have been lonely without the people I love figuring out how to rise up.

                  Not sleeping is what has me up and my mind bounces off of everybody’s topics and thinks some more.

  7. here is the conclusion of a 3,000 year old observational study. by wise King Solomon

    Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

    1. Which leads us always, as all discussions on happiness must invariably tread into deep water…to the smiley button of the 1970’s….https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smiley

      How many hearts were saved from the drying power of events upon the moist human spirit by that singular thing.
      Cruel irony that it be made of metal that.

  8. What about the diet of these “happy and “sad” group? My studies and experience point to diet being a major player in the cause of depression, so it can be inferred that the “sad” group had a more unhealthy (read more dairy and sugar) diet than the happy group thus their immune system was depressed which explains why they got sick more often. Until you control the variable of diet, this study is nothing more than an opinion piece with the intent to foster confusion.

    1. Richard,

      I was thinking the same thing and not just because of the studies like the one Dean Ornish did.

      I feel like studying and learning about WFPB and learning all of the studies also has led to an increased happiness because it gives a greater sense of control.

  9. There was a study published two days ago which found

    ‘the likelihood of all-cause mortality was lower by 9% (multivariable hazard ratio (HR) [95% confidence interval]: 0.91 [0.87–0.95]) for each unit increase in ‘happiness score’, and was 19% lower for happy, versus unhappy, older people (HR: 0.81 [0.68–0.97]).’
    https://academic.oup.com/ageing/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/ageing/afy128/5073293?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    This was only an abstract so it’s not clear if the researchers controlled for disease, wealth or other posssible confounding factors.(apparently they controlled for loneliness and social networks). One possible confounding factor might be exercise ………..

    ‘Physical activity has long been known to reduce depression and anxiety, and is commonly prescribed to prevent or cure negative mental health conditions. A new review suggests the physical activity frequency and volume are essential factors in the relationship between physical activity and happiness’
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10902-018-9976-0

    1. Boy Tom, you are right on the studies.

      One published yesterday.

      One published two days ago.

      You are right there on the cutting edge.

  10. It all works together holistically. Healthy diet makes our cells and mind happy. Exercise also makes our cells happy. We must talk to our cells, tell them we love them….they listen, and respond. (So say “those who know.”) :-)

    It’s also very important to breathe correctly. Our breath is our link with our Higher Self.

    https://howtobehappy.guru/the-importance-of-proper-breathing/

    http://www.sagewoodwellness.com/25-inspirational-health-and-wellness-quotes/

    1. Animals are very wise. If they look like they’re not, they’re just playing dumb.

      Goats would like my company, then. I’d be right there with the best of them, frolicking away. Nothing cuter than baby goats….unless it’s little kittens.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL6Ws4i07is

      A friend was telling me that when Callie’s human mama is away for a few days, some of the tenants offer to feed her. Callie is a lovable cat that has run of the two-story apartments area. For some reason, Callie does NOT like one of the female tenants who tries to feed her. Nobody knows why, except Callie herself.

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