Jerome Fleg, a doctor with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood. Institute, studied a group of adults for 24 years. He found that cheerful people reported less chest pain. Fleg believes it’s because they produce fewer stress hormones such as cortisol. Unhappy people produce more stress hormones. And these hormones thicken the blood and raise blood pressure. So unhappy people are primed for a heart attack.
The results of a study of 866 heart patients showed that happier individuals had an advantage. They had a 20 percent improved odds of living longer. Constant happiness isn’t necessary, says Beverly Brummett of Duke University Medical Center. But avoid emotional lows.
Optimism also improves the immune system, says Suzanne Segerstrom, assistant psychology professor at the University of Kentucky. That’s the long-term result. But in the short run, optimists can show signs of immune suppression, such as colds. They may get sick because they try harder than pessimists to achieve their goals.
How You Look at Life
Is the glass half full or half empty? The answer separates the optimists from the pessimists. But pessimists can increase their set points. Here’s how: Act more trusting. Smile. Laugh. Talk to people. And practice positive behaviors until they become habits. Then maybe you’ll be able to see your glass as half full.
Take A Reality check.
Most people spend much of their life working. So select a career you feel passionate about. Choose something you would do even if you received no pay. Psychologist Martin Seligman defines this as a “calling–a passionate commitment to work for its own sake.”
Any career other than your calling may make you bored and unhappy. “Job satisfaction is a big part of life satisfaction and of emotional well-being,” says psychologist Robert F. Sarmiento, Ph.D.
Life coach Tom Marbois tells how to “sculpt” your career:
1. Use your heart to decide what you want.
2. Take responsibility for turning the “dream” into a reality.
3. Have the courage to be your own person.
4. Create a support network.
5. Enjoy the journey.