Happiness and the Immune System
Most of us are only too aware that the way we live in today’s modern world, and the stress it often causes, is not good for our health.
So if we know some major illnesses can be a result of ongoing stress, or have links to it, why do we as nation not adopt some healthy practices that could potentially reverse this process?
It takes over 40 muscles in the face to frown and less than half of that to smile, a simple example of the variation between effort exerted and benefits gained. Being happy puts less strain on our bodily systems, giving our bodies more time to do the good stuff.
When we meet people who are older than they appear, we often ask them what their secret is. More often than not, they will simply reply, “smiling”, “just being happy”, “living a simple life”, and so on.
There have been hundreds of studies done backing up the claim that thoughts of happiness can boost the immune system. So why is it so difficult to lead a happy life?
With more and more demands being put upon us, whether by society or ourselves, day-to-day life seems full of expectation. From our dream state to our waking state, our minds seem to never stop. Going on holiday should be de-stressing for a person, yet many say it is one of the most stressful times for them. Some people will feel the need to completely drop out from the world for a while, retreating to somewhere offering complete quiet and calm, in order escape the stress of life. Many meditation practices, if adopted long-term, can demonstrate the benefit of living a less stressful live. Why do we not, as a nation, practice or teach this from a young age, just as we learn our ABCs?
Science has shown how chemical imbalances can negatively affect our physical bodies, especially if those imbalances are prolonged. Of course, when we were in the hunter-gatherer stage we needed a certain amount of stress to survive – that stress helped us in fight or flight situations. But this primal nature, it would seem, has continued into our modern lives. Introverts or shy people may experience the same primitive fight or flight instinct when meeting new people, even though the context is not actual physical harm but rather mental or emotional.
Therefore, our everyday demands have the potential to continually put us on edge, and it has to be an active choice by each of us on how we want to lead our lives to ensure good health for the future.