Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Happy Talk

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Study finds that serious conversation makes people happier than small talk.  Forget small talk.  A study has found that people who spend more time discussing serious matters and the meaning of life are happier than those who talk about trivial matters like the weather. Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, says “We found this so interesting, because it could have gone the other way – it could have been ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ – as long as you surf on the shallow level of life you’re happy, and if you go into the existential depths you’ll be unhappy.”

Dr. Mehl’s study doesn’t prove any cause-and-effect connection between the tone of conversation and personal happiness.  He plans to study this further and will request that people have more substantive conversations and less small talk and measure those results.  Published in the journal Psychological Science, Mehl’s study involved 32 male and 47 female college students who wore electronically activated recorders with microphones to tape 30-second bits of conversation every 12 ½ minutes for four days, creating “an acoustic diary of their day.”  The happiest person in the study was found to have substantive conversations 45.9 percent of the time; the least happy person studied spent only 21.8 percent of his time in substantive conversation

“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world,” Dr. Mehl said.  “And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.”

Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

A study has found that happier people are healthier, have fewer heart attacks and strokes.Happy people tend to have fewer heart attacks and strokes, evidence that a positive attitude is heart-healthy, according to a study conducted by Columbia University Medical Center. Researchers tracked 1,739 healthy Canadian adults living in Nova Scotia to determine if positive personality traits such as happiness, contentment and enthusiasm impact risk for heart disease.

Prior to the study, researchers determined the participants’ degree of negative emotions such as depression, hostility and anxiety.  They also measured positive emotions, including joy, happiness and excitement.  Although naturally happy people do experience depression and other negative emotions at times, lead researcher Karina W. Davidson, PhD, recognizes that this is usually caused by a certain situation and is transient.  “We know from previous studies that negative emotion is predictive of heart disease,” Davidson said.  “We wanted to find out if positive affect is protective.”

Taking known risk factors into account, the researchers found that the happiest people were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease over the study’s 10 years when compared with individuals who fell in the middle of the negative-positive emotion scale.  The most negative people had the highest risk of heart disease.  According to Davidson, “It is just speculation at this point, but there are several possible explanations for how happiness may protect the heart.”

Happy people tend to have a healthier lifestyle, eat better, sleep well, smoke less and exercise more.  Another finding is that happiness may produce positive chemical changes in the body, such as a reduction in stress hormones.  Genetic influences could mean that people who are predisposed to happiness also tend to have fewer heart attacks.