Happy and Healthy
Hello, this is Dr. Ellen. In this month’s ‘Real Common Sense’ newsletter, I want to talk about the relationship between happiness (and positive emotions in general) and one’s physical and emotional health. Certainly, happiness is its own reward, but it can also benefit one’s health. Conversely, true health can also contribute to feeling happy. Each supports the other. Of course, there are some people in our lives who appear to prove the opposite of these. There are those who seem to be in great physical health but in no way appear happy, and there are apparently happy souls who nonetheless frequently seem ill. But these are the exceptions, and not the rule. Now, let’s take a quick look at positive emotions and their connection with health and wellness.
By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to see my previous newsletters, you can find them on my website, www.drellencutler.com under ‘Media’.
What is Happiness?
Defining “happiness” seems to be a straightforward task, but one’s cultural, psychological, and personal perspectives can subtly steer that definition. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that happiness is a state of feeling contentment and general satisfaction with the current or ongoing circumstances. To positive psychology researchers, the term ‘subjective wellbeing’ is often used in place of the word ‘happiness’. There are also a number of theories describing happiness. They can be categorized as either being based on experiencing more pleasure and less pain (hedonic happiness) or as resulting from the pursuit and attainment of one’s life purpose, meaning, and personal growth (eudaimonic happiness).(1)
For the purpose of this writing, let’s say that happiness is neither a momentary, short-lived experience (as in singular pleasurable states) nor a long-term, lasting psychological trait. Rather, happy people are ‘generally’ experiencing and tend to experience subjective wellbeing. Of course, they can occasionally feel unhappy, but in ‘appropriate’ situations, such as mourning the loss of a loved one. The happy person, however, does not chronically feel negative feelings.(1,2)
What is the Relationship between Emotions and Health?
On a physiological level, negative emotions have been found to hurt immune, cardiovascular, and endocrine functioning, whereas positive emotions can actually improve them.For instance,happiness expressed as optimism has been found to be significantly associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular events as well as a lower risk of all-cause mortality.(3) Various studies have provided evidence that there are other health benefits from happiness as well. These include helping to combat stress, reduce pain, and possibly reducing frailty in older adults.(4) And of course, being happy is in and of itself a preferred and desirable state to experience.
The effects of emotions on health may occur indirectly. For example, it has been found that individuals who are high in subjective wellbeing are more likely to practice good health behaviors and practices, whereas people in a study that were intentionally put in a sad mood tended to eat tasty but fattening foods rather than healthy fruits. And as stated above, the state of one’s health can directly influence one’s emotional state. So, good health can help create subjective wellbeing and vice versa.(2)
Several personality traits are positively related to happiness. These include self-direction, having a close friend or partner, being involved in physical and leisure activities, higher educational background, greater IQ, and altruism. Happiness generally varies directly with income, but over time the long-term growth rates of happiness and income are not related. Although levels of happiness tend to fall with increasing age, each person’s previous level of subjective well-being is a major predictor of happiness as they age.(5) On the other hand, I have seen numerous older adults who have stated they are happier now than when they were younger.
There are a number of methods that can be used to increase happiness. Practicing gratitude by identifying and reflecting on all the things that are good in your life can become a way to increase happiness, as can gratitude journaling. By learning to manage your desires, staying in the present moment, and focusing on what you truly need, you can cultivate a more peaceful state of mind. Taking good care of yourself and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can increase your energy levels and mood. Practicing stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga or meditation, can be beneficial for achieving happiness. Striving to be your best instead of trying to attain somebody else’s standards will help build self-esteem and can also bring you more happiness.(6) Additionally, getting back in touch with nature (e.g., forest bathing) and spending time with family and friends can help create a sense of peace and happiness.(7)
The Ellen Cutler Method
In my practice, many patients have come in with various complaints that have led them to feel stressed and unhappy. By using ECM energetic testing, I have been able to identify not only underlying sensitivities and blockages associated with their presenting complaints, but also those related to their stress and other negative feelings, which themselves can underlie those complaints. I can then determine the best means of addressing all of these problems, including energetically clearing relevant sensitivities and identifying optimal lifestyle choices to help improve their relationship with their perceived stresses and negative emotions as well as their sense of subjective wellbeing. I have found this approach to be the most efficient and successful way to achieve optimal improvements in wellness and the decrease or resolution of the patient’s complaints, including their reactivity to stress.
So, be well, be healthy, and remember…
“Happiness is the highest form of health.”
– Dalai Lama
- “What Is Happiness and Why Is It Important?” at https://positivepsychology.com/what-is-happiness/
- “HAPPINESS Transforming the Development Landscape” at https://philpapers.org/archive/ADLDOT.pdf#page=95
- “Association of Optimism with Cardiovascular Events and All-Cause Mortality – A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2752100
- “How Being Happy Makes You Healthier” at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/happiness-and-health
- “Happiness and health in psychiatry: what are their implications?” at https://www.scielo.br/j/rpc/a/gXFk9Mqv9Wf8HvwwC4QVSNw/?lang=en
- “How Does Happiness Affect Your Health? – Learn five ways to feel good and reap the health benefits” at https://www.scripps.org/news_items/4533-how-does-happiness-affect-your-health
- “6 Benefits of Happiness according to the Research” at https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-happiness/#health-benefits
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease.