Walk into any self-help section of bookstores (or should I say click on any self-help tab on Amazon) these days and we find ourselves staring at various titles promising to divulge the key to happiness. In recent years, we have been increasingly told to focus on being happy—is happiness overrated? Turns out, Eudaimonic happiness (the type we experience from working towards a purpose greater than us) – not so much Hedonic happiness (the type we experience when we eat something tasty), is in fact good for our health. Here’s how:

Stronger immune system

Studies have shown that people who report high levels of happiness by pursuing a greater good had lower levels of inflammation, and stronger antiviral and antibody gene expression. Instead of merely experiencing less symptoms, happiness actually works on our immune system at a cellular level.

Also read: Dr Andrea Lim debunks 10 health myths


In separate research, those who are the happiest-seeming lived an average of 7-10 years longer than their unhappy counterparts. If you’re still not sold, an English study showed that we are 35% less likely to pop our clogs if we are happier.


Better heart health

A large Canadian study showed that happier participants had a lower heart disease risk of 22%. Measures such as heart rate and blood pressure were shown to be a much healthier levels amongst those who reported themselves to be happy.

Further reading: The bitter truth about sugar

Recover quicker from stressful events

23 is the percentage amount that the stress hormone Cortisol is lower in upbeat and cheerful people. They also recover from stressful events faster than unhappy counterparts when monitored with an electrocardiogram (ECG). 

Less likely to experience pain

When people suffering from painful ailments such as arthritis were surveyed for their happiness, it was found that those with more positive emotions experienced lower levels of pain, and actually reported improvements in their conditions over time.

Photos: Pexels

Sometimes to increase your happiness, all you need to do is get a good night's sleep.