How Having a Positive Outlook on Life Can Help You Live Longer

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

On the other hand, negative feelings are associated with disease and poor health. Shame, grief, depression, anxiety, stress and guilt are linked with a higher likelihood of heart disease, inflammation, cancer, and even early death.

We know that having a positive outlook is beneficial; but can some emotions provide better therapeutic results than others? Is being content or satisfied, for example, doing as much good for you as feeling joy or pride?

New research from the University of California, Berkeley, reveals that not all positive emotions/outlooks offer the same medicinal rewards. Although all positive feelings are good for you, “awe” seems to be the most beneficial.

In the study, 213 students filled out questionnaires about the positive and negative outlooks they’ve felt in the past month. They also gave saliva samples to test levels for a protein called interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is indicative of inflammation—a marker of good health. The students who reported the most happiness had the lowest levels of IL-6.

They were then given another questionnaire to get a little closer to their positive feelings, and were asked to specify how often they felt the following emotions:

  • Awe
  • Amusement
  • Compassion
  • Contentment
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Pride

Combined with saliva samples, researchers realized that people who experienced the feeling of awe most often had the lowest levels of IL-6.

Awe is something that is open to interpretation, but I define it as raw appreciation and amazement of something, regardless of what it is. It’s a feeling that I believe is easily lost in today’s fast-paced life. I think that in order to increase the “awesome” feeling in your life, it’s important to slow down and live in the moment.

Every day, there are amazing things happening all around you. Beautiful blue skies or intense orange sunsets are rather awe-inspiring, but they are easily taken for granted because you see them nearly every day.

Being in the moment and appreciating your surroundings is probably the best way to add more “awe” into your life. Take the time to think about what is really happening before your eyes, and appreciate the magic and beauty it has to offer. For example, you could walk by a beautiful garden every single day, but have you ever stopped to think about it? Have you thought about the way the flowers grow and how they are part of an entire ecosystem that serves various purposes in the world? It might seem silly, but it really is an amazing occurrence!

There are a number of things that can provide you with awe: A song, performance, person or invention can trigger the feeling, and once you take the time to realize what works for you, you might be able to increase your happiness and health!

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Source for Today’s Article:
Stellar, J., “Positive affect and markers of inflammation: Discrete positive emotions predict lower levels of inflammatory cytokines,” National Institutes of Health, January 19, 2015; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25603133.

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