Jeannette M. Gagan, PhD Jeannette M. Gagan, PhD
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Santa Fe , NM
Monday, November 04, 2019


Blog80Daniel Nettle, a scientist and researcher at the University of Newcastle in the UK, has been involved in numerous studies in which people are asked to what degree they are happy. Overall, it seems almost everyone describes themselves as "very happy." Even when asked over a period of time, their responses are consistent. This is good news, as self-reported happiness is strongly related to health.

As part of one study, a group of nuns in the United States wrote autobiographies when they took their vows. Researchers rated these stories for how much positive emotion they expressed. They then went on to look at the life experiences of these nuns—all of whom had diets, activity patterns, and marital and reproductive histories that were comparable to each other. Of the nuns who expressed the most positive emotions, approximately 90 percent were still alive at age 85. Among those who expressed the least positive emotion, only 34 percent were alive at age 85.

Unhappiness negatively impacts your health and hampers your ability to concentrate on other important aspects of life. Even being slightly happy or content may be enough. Sometimes shifting your focus from your interior feelings to concentrate on what's around you can be an uplifting practice. The broader your investment in human good, the more vibrant your life can be. As Nathanial Hawthorne said, “Happiness is a butterfly, which, if you will sit down quietly, will alight on you.”          

I personally have also found it helpful to write down those things that make me happy, so when I'm feeling unhappy I can consult the list. For example, I find happiness in doing something enjoyable with a friend; viewing a comedy movie; eating out at a restaurant; changing my routine in some way, such as sleeping late in the morning; and above all going for a pleasant walk in nature (including the delight of seeing a butterfly). Dear readers, as you reflect on the above, what do you pursue to change your mood to happiness? All comments are most welcome.                                      

Santa Fe, NM
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