We all know that being happy feels good. Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that scientific evidence suggests that living a happy life can improve health and increase longevity. While happiness may not help you live longer if you’re ill, it can protect you from becoming ill in the first place and therefore increase your lifespan. Research points to a health-happiness relationship that works in both directions: Happy people may take better care of themselves by exercising regularly, not smoking, eating well, and getting adequate sleep — all behaviors that impact health. Alternatively, there’s evidence that being happy may directly benefit the health of the heart and immune system. According to the World Happiness Report, a yearly survey of the state of global happiness, people in the happiest countries tend to rank high for parameters such as healthy life expectancy, social support and generosity. So what can you do on a day-to-day basis to live a long, happy life? Here, three ideas:
1. Build positive relationships: Spend quality time with friends and family, or reach out to an old friend you haven’t spoken to in years to reestablish a connection.
2. Engage fully: The happiest people fully immerse themselves in activities that are challenging but doable, according to researchers in positive psychology. Whether your activity is a sport, a work project, or even an intense conversation with a friend, you become entirely absorbed in the activity — you’re “in the zone.”
3. Be generous: Whether you give your money or your time, generous behavior is shown to increase happiness.
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