If you want to live a long, rich life, one of the best things you can do is to fill that life with happy feelings.
Such a sentiment is, of course, easier said than done. And that’s why it’s a topic psychologists are tackling with zeal, many spurred by a landmark study of elderly nuns. That report, by a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, found that nuns who’d expressed the most positive emotions in early adulthood—using words like “thankful” and “joy” in diary entries—lived about ten years longer than those who’d shown the fewest good feelings.
A University of Michigan psychologist, is consumed with teasing out the causes of happy people’s longer lives. Building on her studies of hostility and heart disease, Fredrickson believes a piece of the puzzle is how individuals cope with stress: Does a person deal with trouble head-on, or shy away?
An intriguing finding came from her research on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A few months before the attacks, Fredrickson had studied a group of students to determine how quickly they bounced back from stress. Within two weeks of the attacks, she contacted them to see how they had fared during the crisis. Continue reading If you want to live a long, rich, Happy Life