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Happiness and Health: The Endorphin Effect
Prof Adrian Kennedy
 
Research published by Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Ed Diener of the University of Illinois indicate that being happy is good for health. Happy people are more confident, optimistic, energetic and sociable.

They are also better prepared to deal with difficult situations, are more enjoyable to live with and have a higher capacity for pursuing their aims and acquiring the means to achieve them. Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University also confirmed that happy people are healthier, less likely to become ill, have more active immune systems that resist infection, and live five to nine years longer than their less happy counterparts.
In his best-selling book The Endorphin Effect, William Bloom indicated that happiness caused the release of endorphins in the body which resulted in several effects including:
  • Higher levels of health
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Deeper relaxation
  • More fulfilling sleep
  • Greater confidence and self esteem
  • More positive vision
  • Greater ability to manage crisis
  • Compassionate leadership
  • Greater clarity of purpose
  • Better acceptance of change
  • Greater motivation
  • Less fatigue
What is happiness?
David Lykken has based his explanation on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He mentions that happiness is the fulfilment of needs at all levels. Needs must be fulfilled in the Maslow order of priority as follows:
  • First the physical needs of food, water, sex, sleep and so on must be met.
  • Then the needs of safety of body, security of job, resources, property, health etc.
  • Next, the needs of belonging, especially of family, friends and acceptance by society.
  • Followed by esteem, recognition of individual achievement, respect from others, existence of self esteem and sense of confidence.
  • Finally self actualization – self fulfilment, self efficiency, confident spontaneity, comfortable acceptance, lack of prejudice and so on.
Sylvia Helena Cardoso, a modern writer, has defined happiness within the modern day scenario and she says that happiness involves:
  • A general average level of contentment and well- being with a high frequency of positive feelings such as good humor, joy, laughter, hope and enthusiasm. These are coupled with relative freedom from negative feelings such as sadness, worry, anxiety, anger, irritability, despondency and despair.
  • The presence of more positive (happy) than negative (unhappy) events in our lives, and more importantly, the ability when negative feelings occur, to allow them only a minimal effect on our emotions and consequently on our bodies as well.
  • A match between life expectation and achievement and deeds. Aristotle wrote that “happiness is the consequence of a deed” i.e., it is not the result of chance but from using the best of all opportunities that we encounter in our lives.
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