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Be Happy! Your Longevity Just May Depend On It!

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Be Happy! Your Longevity Just May Depend On It!

Be happy. Live longer.

No, it’s not that simple, but research says happy lives are longer — by 35%.

A study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that those who reported feeling happiest had a 35% reduced risk of dying compared with those who reported feeling least happy.

Rather than rely on recollection, as in past studies, this British study of 3,853 participants ages 52-79 rated their feelings at different times on one particular day. Five years later, researchers recorded the number who’d died and controlled for a variety of factors, including age, gender, health, wealth, education and marital status.

This approach “gets closer to measuring how people actually feel,” says study co-author Andrew Steptoe, a psychology professor and epidemiologist at University College in London.

“Responses to general questions are influenced strongly by personality, by what people think they ‘ought’ to say and by recollections that might not be quite accurate,” he says.

What’s not clear, he adds, is whether happy feelings are the key to longevity or if it’s something else causing extended life. “We can’t draw the conclusion that the happiness is leading directly to better survival.”

Researchers who haven’t yet read the study say this link between a one-day measure and mortality is important.

“The fact that positive emotions in one day predicted survival is pretty amazing,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California-Riverside. “We do know that happiness is associated with an extended life span. If we can get people to be happier, would that extend the life span? We don’t know that yet.”

Arthur Stone, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Stony Brook University in New York, whose research on well-being has taken measures over the course of a day for several days, says the relationship between happiness and mortality “must be fairly robust” with results evident in just the one day for this 3,853-person sample.

And what if some were just having a bad day?

“A ‘bad day’ should weaken the relationship,” Stone says. “If they had been able to measure several days one would guess that the relationship would be even stronger.”

Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health in Boston, says the study “highlights the idea that if you’re consistently distressed, it’s probably worth paying attention to how you feel — it matters for both psychological and physical health.”

This study asked participants to rate feelings on a 1-to-4 scale at 7 a.m., 7 p.m. and a half-hour after each. “Generally, they were less happy when they woke up and most happy at 7 p.m.,” Steptoe says.

After Fifty Living™ was founded by Jo-Anne Lema, a genuine Boomer and member of the 50+ generation. As she likes to say, “Our enormous generation is charting new territory – we’re healthier, better educated, and more financially fit than any other generation at this time. And, as we march through history, 110 million strong – unique, new issues are developing. It’s exciting to be a part of the development and growth of AfterFiftyLiving.com. This is a historic solution for a historic generation.”

Jo-Anne spent many years in the financial and operations side of higher education after having received a doctorate in education management and administration from Harvard, and an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University. Launching out on her own, though, has been the fulfillment of a life dream. Jo-Anne believes that “AfterFiftyLiving™ will delight its visitors, catalyze its partners, and will significantly benefit those who engage it.”

Residing in New England along with her husband of 35+ years, she never ceases to brag about her two children and 4 grandkids!

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