Can you Afford to be Unhappy?
Updated: Apr 11
I have been fascinated with the concept of happiness and how it is different for each of us. My belief is that everyone has the ability to be happy in their own way and it requires commitment to figure out what happiness is to you in your personal flavour of life. I have come across a few resources lately that highlight the link between happiness and health which got me thinking… With people living longer lives and the cost of healthcare ever increasing, can you afford to be unhappy?
It turns out there are many studies that have looked into the link between happiness and health. The Healthline article “How being happy makes you healthier” by Daisy Coyle, gives a high level tour of some of the studies that look at 6 main areas on which happiness may have an effect:
Promotes a healthy lifestyle,
Appears to boost the immune system,
Helps combat stress,
May protect your heart,
May lengthen your life expectancy,
May help reduce pain.
Picking up on the two points of people living longer lives and healthcare costs increasing:
According to the United Nations 2015 World Aging Report, “between 2015 and 2030, the number of people in the world aged 60 years or over is projected to grow by 56 per cent, from 901 million to 1.4 billion, and by 2050, the global population of older persons is projected to more than double its size in 2015, reaching nearly 2.1 billion”. And,
In real time figures in South Africa many medical aid schemes increased their premiums by almost 10%, and it is forecast that in some countries health expenditure will outpace GDP growth over the next 15 years.
This starts to sketch out a picture that your happiness is an essential here and now investment in your future. Besides the potential of living a long time at great expense, you deserve to walk your own happiness journey.
So how do you start growing your investment? The two resources I want to name are what prompted me to think about this question:
The Happiness Lab is a podcast presented by Yale professor, Dr Laurie Santos. This podcast explores the science of happiness, looking at what it is really about, challenging how we go about getting it and highlighting research based practices on living into our own happiness.
Another clear insight into happiness is from the TED talk “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness”, where Dr Robert Waldinger talks about the Harvard Study of Adult Development and some of the key findings about happiness. Take a look at the video to learn more about the study itself. Dr Waldinger is also featured in the first episode of The Happiness Lab. In the TED talk Dr Waldinger captures the resounding message from the now 80+ year study as “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
What becomes abundantly clear is that happiness is not a destination, it is a journey. This journey will have its ebbs and flows, and requires ongoing care. For me the happier you are the more you are able to live into your personal flavour of life and the more you work at living into your personal flavour of life the happier you will become.