Why Happier People Live Longer

Let your inner curmudgeon go already — you just might help yourself (and a bunch of people around you, too)

A wise man once said, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).

If you increase your happiness, science says you can expect more positive benefits when compared to people with less happiness. Check these out.

Life benefits: 

  • Superior mental health
  • Excellent physical health
  • Ability to bounce back from hardship and trauma

Love benefits:

  • Marital satisfaction
  • Great sex
  • Happy children
  • Caring friends

Work benefits:

  • More requests for job interviews
  • Better performance evaluations
  • Higher productivity
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Higher income

It’s not hard to be happy. With a little bit of effort, you can be happier today.

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Related: The Secrets of Raising Happy Children

Here are four simple things you can do. You only need to do one to improve your mood and add pleasure to your day. You might even add joy to someone else’s day.

1.) Thank. Pause and reflect on things for which you’re thankful, choosing at least three that happened within the past 24 hours. Write them down. Not only will this increase your happiness today, but if you do this three or four times in a week, you can increase your happiness for up to six months.

2.) Give. Do something generous. Buy lunch for a workmate. Buy a small gift for your spouse — something you know that she will appreciate. Volunteer your time and talent for a charity. Donate money to a cause that’s important to you. Generous giving immediately boosts happiness.

3.) Smile. The simple act of looking in the mirror and smiling at yourself can increase your happiness. But even better than that, smile at the people you meet today. Make it a genuine smile — one you feel from your heart. And say something like, “It’s good to see you today!” Most people will return the smile and thank you.

4.) Play. Play isn’t just for children. I’m also not talking about playing a competitive sport. Sneak up on a family member and give him a gentle tickle. Flirt with your spouse the way you did when you were dating. Make a game out of tossing wastepaper into the recycling bin, and invite somebody to join you — don’t keep score. Be creative.

Related: Estate Planning: A Love Note to Your Family

Play won’t only increase your happiness — it will increase the happiness of those who play with you. It will also bring you closer to each other.

What are you going to do today to be happy?

Jon Beaty, life coach and father of two, lives near Portland, Oregon. He’s the author of the book “If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying: 7 Habits for Thriving in Your Faith, Relationships and Work.”

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