Happiness May Be Heart Healthy
“I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil. This is God’s gift to man.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
Scientists have long known that Type A personalities and people who are chronically angry, anxious or depressed have a higher risk of heart attacks. Now a Harvard review of the flip side of that psychology concludes that being upbeat and optimistic just may help protect against heart disease.
Rather than focusing only on how to lessen heart risks, “it might also be useful to focus on how we might bolster the positive side of things,” said lead researcher Julia Boehm of the Harvard School of Public Health. Boehm reviewed dozens of studies examining a positive outlook, as determined by various psychological measurements, on heart health.
Optimism in particular seems key, as a number of studies found the most optimistic people had half the risk of a first heart attack when compared to the least optimistic, Boehm said. Why? Previous work shows the stress associated with negative psychological traits can lead to damage of arteries and the heart.
Boehm found that people with a better sense of well-being tend to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, and are more likely to exercise, eat healthier, get enough sleep and avoid smoking.
The Scriptures measure happiness different than the world. For people of faith, true happiness comes from within rather than from without. True happiness is not shallow and based on external stimuli. True happiness is not material, is not inherited, and cannot be acquired through some recipe of human origin.
True happiness is based on a scriptural relationship with God. Happiness is a state of blessedness that derives from this relationship. Knowing our origin, purpose, and destiny is requisite to happiness. Biblical happiness can be experienced even amid difficulties and misfortunes.
Jesus said “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven…” (Luke 6:22-23). Herein lies true happiness that we all should seek and what’s good for the spiritual heart is also for the physical heart.
Question: How do you define happiness? How can you rejoice today?