Being happy and being healthy are closely connected, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.
Those with higher life satisfaction are often healthier in both body and mind, have a better chance at a good night’s sleep and face less chronic pain.
Lead Dr. Eric Kim studied 12,998 U.S. adults older than 50 for a four-year period. He analyzed their life-fulfillment levels as well as their health.
Findings – published in The Milbank Quarterly on Feb. 2 – reveal those satisfied with their lives have a 26 per cent reduced risk of dying, among other positive health outcomes:
- A 46 per cent reduction in risk of depression
- A 25 per cent reduction in risk of physical limitation
- The risk of chronic pain has been reduced by 12 per cent
- A 14 per cent reduction in risk of developing sleep disorders
- 8 per cent more likely to have frequent physical activity
Also found in those most satisfied was a heightened sense of optimism, purpose, and mastery with a reduced chance of feeling hopeless or lonely.
“Life satisfaction is a person’s evaluation of his or her own life based on factors that they deem most relevant,” explained Kim, assistant professor in UBC’s psychology department.
While shaped by genetics, social factors and changing life circumstances Kim said life satisfaction can be improved on both the individual level and collectively, on a national level.
As such, the psychologist thinks policymakers should consider life satisfaction when seeking to maximize the health of a populous.
“It is in the interest of policymakers’ election and reelection campaigns to consider how life satisfaction can be improved,” Kim concluded. “Our policymakers have a rare and excellent opportunity to pursue well-being for all in the post-pandemic world.”
Especially, as nations “reevaluate their priorities in light of the widespread change caused by COVID-19.”
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