Be happy. Live longer.
No, it's not that simple, but new research says happy lives are longer —by
The study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, found that those who reported feeling happiest had a 35%
reduced risk of dying compared with those who reported feeling least happy.
Rather than rely on recollections about their feelings of happiness as in
earlier studies, this British study of 3,853 participants ages 52-79 rated their
feelings at different times on one particular day. Five years later, researchers
recorded the number who died and controlled for a variety of factors, including
age, gender, health, wealth, education and marital status.
rely on 依靠；依赖
This approach "gets closer to measuring how people actually feel" rather
than relying on recollections or general questions about well-being, says
epidemiologistAndrew Steptoe, a psychology professor at University College in
London, who co-authored the study.
epidemiologist n. 流行病学家
How happy a person is at any point in time, he says, is a product of "some
background dispositionsome people tend to be happier than others," but also
"what they are doing, who they are with, and other features of that point in
time. Both are important."
"It's perfectly true that someone's happiness over a single day will be
affected by what happens to them over that period," Steptoe says. "However,
survey experts and psychologists have come to the view that in many ways, this
is a better approach to understanding how people actually feel than asking them
general questions about how happy they are. Responses to general questions are
influenced strongly by personality, by what people think they 'ought' to say and
by recollections that might not be quite accurate," Steptoe says.
What's not clear, he says, is whether happy feelings are the key to
longevity or if it's something else that causes extended life. "We can't draw
the kind of final conclusion that the happiness is leading directly to better
survival," he says.
longevity n. 长寿；寿命
draw a conclusion 下结论
Others who have done research in this area but haven't read the study say
this link between a one-day measure and mortality is important.
"The fact that positive emotions in one day predicted survival is pretty
amazing," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of
"We do know that happiness is associated with an extended life span," she
says. If we can get people to be happier, would that extend the lifespan? We
don't know that yet. Future research can definitely try to show that."
Arthur Stone, a professor of psychiatryand psychology at Stony Brook
University in New York, who has used measurements over the course of a day in
his research, says the fact that the researchers "got a relationship with
mortality means that the relationship must be fairly robust because they only
had 3,800 people and they were only measuring the one day."
psychiatry n. 精神病学
robust adj. 强健的；健康的
And what if some who were measured on that one day were just having a bad
"A 'bad day' should weaken the relationship," Stone says. "What it's saying
is there are enough people here that people having odd days didn't really matter
very much. Some people had bad days and some had good days. If they had been
able to measure several days with these techniques, one would guess that the
relationship would be even stronger."
Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor in the Department of Society, Human
Development and Health, at Harvard's School of Public Health in Boston, says
there's a "burgeoning body of work that suggests positive psychological
functioning benefits health," and this study is significant because it "adds to
"It could say to people, you should take your mood seriously," Kubzansky
says. "I think people sort of undervalue emotional life anyway. This highlights
the idea that if you are going through a period where you're consistently
distressed, it's probably worth paying attention to how you feel —it matters for
both psychological and physical health."
sort of 有点儿；稍稍
highlight v. 突出；强调；使显著
distressed adj. 痛苦的；忧虑的
This study asked participants to rate how happy, excited and content they
felt at four points during a single day —7 a.m., 7 p.m. and a half-hour after
each. They used a rating scale from 1 ("not at all") to 4 ("extremely").
"Generally, they were less happy when they woke up and most happy at 7
p.m.," Steptoe says.