Training your brain to be happier
Parallels: Happiness

Is your glass half full?

Long-term studies that followed French, American and British men and women found that those with a positive, happy outlook lived longer.

Risk of death was 14% higher among 32,000 Americans who were unhappy, even after controlling for confounding factors.

A 2011 analysis of nearly 4,000 Brits found those who said they felt content, happy or excited on a typical day were up to 35% less likely to die prematurely.

Source: English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA)

Research has found a direct link between optimism and a stronger immune system, better lung function, less pain and better cardiac health.

Pessimism is associated with anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and behavior choices that can be damaging to overall health.

Studies show that a network of warm, positive, satisfying relationships, no matter how small, are the key to a happy life.

Social isolation and loneliness can damage health as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

"It's the quality of your close relationships that matters," said Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger. "High-conflict marriages turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective."

Source: Harvard Study of Adult Development

Research shows having purpose and meaning in life was more important than exercising regularly or reducing drinking and smoking, in decreasing risk of death.

People without a strong life purpose, even if wealthy, were more than twice as likely to die prematurely.

Practicing compassion boosts happiness, health, self-confidence and resilience.

The Chicago Cubs baseball team hadn't won a World Series in 108 years. Then they began compassion training and won the 2016 World Series.

You can train your brain to be happy. A study found it only took two weeks of daily half-hour meditation to produce a measurable change in regions of the brain that support positivity.

Source: Center for Healthy Minds

Using all your skill and attention on a challenging task can put you into an eurphoric "flow," similar to the "zone" an athlete obtains at peak performance.

Being disengaged fosters depression and negativity, which can spread to co-workers, friends and family.

Happier people had lower levels of inflammation before and after a stressful event, a study found.

People without good coping skills for stress have a higher risk for heart disese, sleeping problems, depression and obesity, to name a few.

  • Count your blessings daily.
  • Nurture meaningful connections with friends and family.
  • Volunteer your time to help others.
  • Practice visualizing yourself happy and content in the future.
  • Be compassionate and forgiving of others.

Editorial Sandee LaMotte, David Allan

Design and Production Sarah-Grace Mankarious

Development Marco Chacón

Illustration Tiffany Beucher

Animation Ignacio Osorio, Michael Page, Alexander Sears