Can Happiness Boost Your Immune System?

Immune System and happiness

When it comes to the immune system, many people assume that it’s all biological. While that may seem to be true, it’s not 100% accurate. What you have to realize is that you can actually boost your Immune System through happiness.

That’s right, sometimes the body reacts to the stimulus that is outside of the connective tissues. There are a lot of people that deal with a wide variety of issues, and many of the symptoms manifest as a result of stress and more.

Many don’t even realize how life’s issues could really weigh down on good health.

Often times, the best way to combat sickness that manifests is to look at finding boosts through emotional healing as much as you should work with physical healing.

If you have never thought about how your mental stress can bring about issues with your health, then it’s time to rethink how you’re moving forward with your regular life.

Pursuing therapeutic elements could very well help you lift the immune system to all new levels. Once you understand biochemical responses, you will find that happiness could very well be the secret to getting a helping hand in regards to your overall health.

John Medina writes in his book Brain Rules about a study done at the UCLA drama department with method actors.

Pic from quotespie.com

The Power of Positive Thinking

The first thing that you will want to know is simple, happiness manifests amazing strength to your body.

Boosting positivity can not only give you a source of elation, but it could provide serious elements moving forward.

(You might also like to read one of my previous post, Positive Thinking Can Help To Create Our Happiness)

Positivity may seem difficult at first glance, but the way that your body responds is quite interesting. Studies indicate that it can help with elements such as a reduction of heart disease.

“That’s the finding from Johns Hopkins expert, Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., and her colleagues.

People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.” Source

That’s right, by laughing a bit more, being positive and enjoying your life, the psychological manifests into the physical. This is a study that is not isolated, either, as you’ll find a great deal of research that has been reported across medical journals and beyond.

You might also like to read The Importance of our Thoughts

Positivity In Action Is The Key

Other medical research indicates that the best way to get incredible benefits is to look for happiness that involves a greater sense of purpose, the eudaimonic approach.

Current research on well-being has been derived from two general perspectives:

the hedonic approach, which focuses on happiness and defines well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance;

and the eudaimonic approach, which focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree to which a person is fully functioning.

This is something that focuses on a deeper meaning of your daily routine.

Caring about others, going through spiritual changes, volunteering, and working towards something that is community oriented seems to be the positive element that helps boost the immune system.

Real Science Is Found With Happiness

Some pundits will not completely jump into the belief system that happiness is the key to better health.

However, researchers from UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) completed studies in which they showed happiness levels coincided with better overall health.

This included pain relief, better heart health, lower inflammation in the body, better anti-viral, anti-body, and physical response. Real science is what you’re getting here, and it keeps showing evidence of better overall health. Sometimes, it’s easy to go with pseudo-science, but that’s not what you see with this notion of joy, and happiness.

Instead, results seem to point towards a deeper sense of strength, and overall good health.

Here is what the studies say:

A good state of mind — that is, your happiness — affects your genes, scientists say.

In the first study of its kind, researchers from UCLA’s Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and the University of North Carolina examined how positive psychology impacts human gene expression.

What they found is that different types of happiness have surprisingly different effects on the human genome.

People who have high levels of what is known as eudaimonic well-being — the kind of happiness that comes from having a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life (think Mother Teresa) — showed very favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. They had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.

However, people who had relatively high levels of hedonic well-being — the type of happiness that comes from consummatory self-gratification (think most celebrities) — actually showed just the opposite. They had an adverse expression profile involving high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody gene expression.

The report appears in the current online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the last 10 years, Steven Cole, a UCLA professor of medicine and a member of the UCLA Cousins Center, and his colleagues, including first author Barbara L. Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina, have been examining how the human genome responds to stress, misery, fear and all kinds of negative psychology.

In this study, though, the researchers asked how the human genome might respond to positive psychology. Is it just the opposite of stress and misery, or does positive well-being activate a different kind of gene expression program?

The researchers examined the biological implications of both hedonic and eudaimonic well-being through the lens of the human genome, a system of some 21,000 genes that has evolved fundamentally to help humans survive and be well.

Previous studies had found that circulating immune cells show a systematic shift in baseline gene-expression profiles during extended periods of stress, threat or uncertainty. Known as conserved transcriptional response to adversity, or CTRA, this shift is characterized by an increased expression of genes involved in inflammation and a decreased expression of genes involved in antiviral responses.

This response, Cole noted, likely evolved to help the immune system counter the changing patterns of microbial threat that were ancestrally associated with changing socio-environmental conditions; these threats included bacterial infection from wounds caused by social conflict and an increased risk of viral infection associated with social contact.

In the present study, the researchers drew blood samples from 80 healthy adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, as well as potentially confounding negative psychological and behavioral factors. The team used the CTRA gene-expression profile to map the potentially distinct biological effects of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being.

And while those with eudaimonic well-being showed favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells and those with hedonic well-being showed an adverse gene-expression profile, “people with high levels of hedonic well-being didn’t feel any worse than those with high levels of eudaimonic well-being,”

Cole said. “Both seemed to have the same high levels of positive emotion. However, their genomes were responding very differently even though their emotional states were similarly positive.

“What this study tells us is that doing good and feeling good have very different effects on the human genome, even though they generate similar levels of positive emotion,” he said. “Apparently, the human genome is much more sensitive to different ways of achieving happiness than are conscious minds.”
Source

Simple Steps To Help You Boost Your Health and Your Immune System

Cuddling

You could spend a great deal of time reading medical journals and trying to reach optimal health. However, you don’t have to stress too much. In fact, stress is absolutely bad for you. There are a few things that you can do to help you get a better chance of elevating your overall health. The following steps are absolutely compelling and could manifest a whole new hope for your life if you’re in need of a boost in your immune system.

Laugh More – The first thing you can do is simple, laugh. Laughter is a great therapy, and it has been proven to help lower stress, prevent heart disease, and bring about overall social bonds. There’s a reason why the old adage that says, laughter is the best medicine. It’s a wonderful thing to laugh, and when you get the deep guttural laughs that come from a sincere place, you will feel absolutely grand and the results will manifest in time.

You might like to read The Power of Laughter

Dance For Health Besides the immune system bounce, you’ll find that dancing can help you in a lot of different ways. Dancing can help you with movement, mobility, weight management, and so much more. It bonds you with your friends, family, and even significant other. Singing and dancing have both been shown to have great health benefits, so go for it, have a ball.

Exercise – Oh no, the dreaded fitness word. People don’t immediately love this word and think that they are going to be struggling. That’s not the case. In regards to happiness, you want to work with finding great fun with your movement. Get a hula-hoop, jump rope, play soccer, or ride a bike, do something that gives you a bit of fun. You will find benefits manifest aside from just weight management, that’s for sure.

You might like to read: Why regular exercise makes you Happy

Sleep – The next thing that you need to do is simple, sleep. Find a place to nap. Take on a good nap throughout your day, and if you can’t find time, then pursue better night’s sleep. Make sure that you work through this because it can help with mood, and much more. You want to give yourself a fighting chance to get through your work day and life. It will pay off dividends, that’s for sure.

Practice Gratitude – There are many known benefits of gratitude. It makes us feel happier and content. It makes us more likable and it improves our health.

You might like to read:

Practice Kindness – Kindness not only makes you happier but also has some healthy benefits. Read more

Find Your Purpose in Life –  Read more

Use some Positive Affirmations – a great tool to rewire our subconscious mind and therefore train our little voice from being in a state of negative thinking to a positive one. Positive Affirmations

There Is Power In Positivity

Stress, depression, sadness, and many other issues manifest physical problems.

There is power in positivity, and it can be contagious in so many ways. When you seek out happy moments and share them with others, your heart rate improves, your mental health improves, and you feel better emotionally and physically.

This has been proven time and time again. Take on this solution and change pace. If you’re not feeling well, seek out opportunities to improve your health and boost your immune system through living a life that you love. Laugh, dance, play, and you’ll find why so many researchers are discovering that the secret to longevity may be found in happiness, not just medical science.

Think about that, and embrace joy.


Meet the Author

Duccio
Duccio

Inspiring People to Be Happy. Blogger, Life Coach, Reiki Master.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kenny Lee

    I enjoy this article. The problem with positive thinking and happiness is that most people only feel positive when things are going good for them. But it is in time of darkness that we need to raise our energy and get rid of depressing thoughts.

    • Hi Kenny.
      You are absolutely right, we need to push ourselves even if sometimes can be really hard.
      I am glad you enjoyed the article and thank you for your comment.

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