Do happy people live longer?
WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

‘Positive-mindset people will have more time in which to be upbeat. And pessimists who obsessively worry about the future may not have as long a future to worry about’

Over the weekend, while honoring the memorials of our departed loved ones, I pondered if happy people do live longer. Why? Because my father, at 85 years of age, is still healthy and just enjoyed Tokyo with my family, while my mother, who was 11 years younger, passed on before Christmas last year. Between the two, my dad has always been the funny one. He has always used humor to cope with tragedy and otherwise stressful situations.

My Holland, the author of the book Happiness is the Way, believes that we, indeed, live longer when our lives are filled with positive emotion. She said that research has found strong associations between positive emotional experiences and longevity.

“But whatever the explanation, if positive attitudes do, indeed, turn out to be a ticket to a longer life, two things are true: positive-mindset people will have more time in which to be upbeat. And pessimists who obsessively worry about the future may not have as long a future to worry about,” My pointed out.

“The study of happiness and aging has led to another intriguing finding. Even those of us who are fundamentally happy, it turns out, experience varying degrees of happiness depending on what phase of life we are in. The average person will have predefined periods in their life in which they will be happier than others,” she added.

Recent studies indicate that happiness in relation to age follows a U-shaped curve. We can say that technically we are born happy but the happiness declines between the ages of 16 to 45. Then happiness swings up again for another 15 years. 

Interestingly, the proponents of the study are economists who noted that the pattern of happiness does not match that of wealth accrual, which in effect validates the saying that money cannot buy happiness.

What happens after 45 that brings about an increase in happiness? My believes it is because of the virtue of wisdom. We get older and wiser.

She enlisted eight elements that differentiate people of wisdom:

• The ability to learn from experience. “Wise people may not get things right the first time, or even the second, but at a certain point the light dawns and they change behavior that isn’t serving them,” My expounded.

• Flexibility. “They understand that life includes a certain amount of uncertainty, even randomness, and they are able to modify their plans accordingly.” 

• Effective coping with adversity. “When things don’t work out well, the wise don’t fall apart. They are calm in the face of crisis. They adapt to misfortune in ways that can help them continue to thrive — even against the odds. After a crisis is past, they know how to rebound and move on.” 

• Objectivity. “The wise can view situations with a certain level of healthy detachment. They try not to let personal biases determine their decisions or course of action,” My clarified.

• Careful deliberation. “The wise resist impulsivity and are unlikely to jump to conclusions without considering all available evidence.”

• Balance. “Wise people draw on both their logic and their well-honed emotional intelligence when making decisions.”

• Lack of self-absorption. “Wise people tend to be other-centered. They are unselfish and exude empathy and compassion.”

• Humility. “Though they may be exemplary individuals, the wise are not stuck up about it. They never assume they are infallible.”

My was born in France on the United Nations International Day of Happiness — sealing her destiny as an ambassador of happiness. She has worked and lived in France, USA, Japan, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam.

Trained in neuroscience, positive psychology, mindfulness and emotional intelligence, she is one of the seven EQ SEI worldwide network leaders in Australia.

As a certified assessor-coach and a learned lecturer, My is dedicated to bringing well-being and joy at work. She believes these benefit not only businesses but also our relationships among family and friends, peers and associates and the community in general.

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