Picture: (AFP/Deshakalyan Chowdhury)
A Bhutanese woman smiles while shopping at a market in Thimphu, as seen in March. a Dutch professor has concluded that the effects of happiness on longevity are “comparable to that of smoking or not”.
Keep humming “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. New research shows being happy can add several years to life.
Ruut Veenhoven of Rotterdam’s Erasmus University in a study to be published next month says “Happiness does not heal, but happiness protects against falling ill”.
After reviewing 30 studies carried out worldwide over periods ranging from one to 60 years, the Dutch professor says the effects of happiness on longevity were “comparable to that of smoking or not”.
That special flair for feeling good, he says, could lengthen life by between 7.5 and 10 years.
The finding brings a vital new piece to a puzzle currently being assembled by researchers worldwide on just what makes us happy – and on the related question of why people blessed with material wealth in developed nations no longer seem satisfied with their lives.
Once the province of poets or philosophers, the notions of happiness and satisfaction have been taken on and dissected, quantified and analysed in the last few years by a growing number of highly serious and respected economists — some of whom dub the new field “hedonics”, or the study of what makes life pleasant, or otherwise.