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#138 Happy for health & healthy from happiness

By Cathryn Wellner / September 16, 2011

How can the spirit not lift when we see beauty like these leaves near my home.

I haven’t been sick in the two years since Robin and I came home from a long visit to Australia. Some bug in Melbourne knew I had no immunity to it so made itself at home for ten days or so. Then it moved on, and I haven’t spent a day emptying tissue boxes and devouring novels since.

I attribute that to more than a healthy diet and exercise. I figure it’s also because I’m happy. I have a loving partner, a circle of amazing friends, and time to do the writing and photography that make every day full and satisfying.

In July a study of nearly 8000 British civil servants reported in the European Heart Journal that my heart is likely healthier as well.  U.K. researchers asked participants in the Whitehall II study about seven areas of their lives: job, family, sex life, self, love relationship, leisure activities, and standard of living. They found “that satisfaction with life may promote heart health”.

Another study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2008, suggested happiness “does not lengthen the life of seriously ill people, but it does prolong the life of healthy people. Happiness appears to protect against falling ill.”

Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe the next study or the one after that will refute any link between happiness and health. Sickness and heartache are part of everyone’s bag of troubles. So is the capacity to deal with them and find a measure of joy with whatever hand we’re dealt.

So I’m going to keep on being grateful for every day I wake up on this beautiful planet. And I’ll say thank you to the Dalai Lama for this quote on his Facebook page:

“Leaving aside the perspective of spiritual practice, even in worldly terms, in terms of our enjoying a happy day-to-day existence, the calmer our minds are, the greater our peace of mind will be and the greater will be our ability to enjoy a happy and joyful life.” Dalai Lama


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