Life potentials How happiness affects health

Happy people have better immune systems and cope better with viruses than unhappy people

More from The Happiness Advantage

Being happy affects your health and immune system

Happy people have better immune systems and cope better with viruses

A group of researchers set out to test the effect of happiness on the immune system. First they carried out a survey of the people in the experiment designed to measure levels of happiness. The group was then injected with cold virus. The idea was to see how the group reacted to the virus and find out if the level of happiness had any influence

After a week the group was tested. It turned out that people who were happier before the injection of the virus had actually coped much better with the virus than the people who were less happy.

Unhappy employees take more sick days

Research shows that unhappy employees take more sick days, staying home an average of 15 more days per year.

One could argue that because they were happier they probably just didn’t notice they were sick as much as the unhappy ones did. But this was not the case. The happy individuals didn’t just feel better, they also had less objective symptoms of the cold virus measured by professionals.

The power of our mind over our body

The power of our mind over our body Here’s a few other fascinating facts about the power of our mind over our body and immune system:

  • If someone recalls a bad feeling the effect can be measured on the immune system within 10 minutes 
  • People who estimate their own health to be good lives about 10 years longer than people who view their health to be bad - even though their actual health condition is the same. 
  • When you give someone a hug the hormone oxytocin is released. The hormone has beneficial effects on the human heart.

Most people think that something like the immune system and how the body deals with disease is very “objective” and not something that is affected by our state of mind and our own perception of our health and the state of our immune system. Well, it turns out that in fact it is.

If someone lives 10 years longer than someone in the same health condition simply because they have a different perception of the state of their body and the immune system then the mental construction of our own health clearly makes a big difference in real life.


The Happiness Advantage

Read more fascinating examples of how happiness and a positive state of mind can influence your physical well being in the book “The Happiness Advantage” by Harvard graduate Shawn Achor.


Get the Book today
Popout amazon

More from The Happiness Advantage