It has been found that happiness or the lack thereof has no impact on mortality whatsoever.
Mortality rates are not dependent upon one’s level of happiness or unhappiness. A million women in the United Kingdom were studied as far as their levels of satisfaction were concerned.
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Their happiness quotient had no effect on their longevity or quality of life. Conversely those who were unhappy or stressed out weren’t any worse for wear then their jollier counterparts. The past studies had been confusing cause and effect so far and that is why the common misperception had been rife that happiness extends quality of life.
Since situations where life was under threat could effect happiness, it was mistakenly thought that unhappiness led to increased mortality. Also smokers were less satisfied than non-smokers and here too the mortality rates of smokers were higher.
So these statistics too worked in favor of the false hypothesis that unhappy people died earlier and lived lives of quiet desperation. Other lifestyle factors crowded the data figures and so it was not necessarily the case that unhappy people had a generally low quality of life.
While any malady could make you unhappy, unhappiness alone does not make you ill. The relationship didn’t work both ways. The study lasted a decade, and no higher mortality rates were found in the unhappy women.
The women were given questionnaires halfway where they had to report on their health status, happiness levels, the stress that they felt, focus of control and relaxation response.
While five out of six said that they were happy, one in six was unhappy. The unhappiness had to do with a lot of factors. These included relative deprivation, no spouse to share one’s feelings with, use of tobacco and a sedentary lifestyle.
Of the 700,000 women, the average age was 59 years. Over the next ten years they were followed as to their health and happiness. 300,000 of them died in the decade that passed.
The overall death rate among those who were unhappy was almost the same as that in those who were happy. So much for the positive thinking movement and its fake smile band-aid philosophy.
If you are a grouch, than maybe such a manner suits you more than pasting a 100 watt smile to your face. Whether the deaths were from cancer, heart attack or stress, unhappiness had nothing to do with kicking the bucket.
It was a silly confusion of cause and effect that had led to the notion which had bamboozled so many into thinking that if they just acted positive, they would reap countless benefits including a lengthy life.
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This study was published on December 9th in The Lancet.