A new study of happiness and meaning published this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested that being happy isn’t all that great for your health.
The open access research is published online where you can read it for yourself under the title, A Functional Genomic Perspective On Human Well-Being. But here’s a word of warning: It’s fairly tough going.
The short version is that American researchers in North Carolina and California wanted to see how the human body reacted to feelings of psychological well-being on the molecular level. They studied physical immune responses like antibody creation and inflammation.
I can’t sum up their findings any better than the MSN Now headline writer did: “It’s better for your body to do good than to feel good.”
Yes, I’m sad to say that according to this research being happy caused the same immune response as adversity and high stress. Oops.
Emily Esfahani Smith really dug into happiness and meaning research, including this new study, for The Atlantic. You can read her entire essay there.
But a key takeaway point is that happiness comes from being selfish and taking. Meaning comes from giving.
I don’t know about you, but at that point I’m suddenly slapping my head and saying d’oh. When Smith puts the findings in English, they suddenly seem pretty obvious.
Stop and think about what really makes you happy. You fall in love and now you walk around bumping into things with that stupid smile on your face. You get lucky and it’s same song, second verse, only with a higher risk of disease. Get loaded, stay out all night on some degen gambling spree, fly around the world and get jet-lagged and disoriented…None of the stuff that makes you happy is good for your body.
Heck, just ask a mother what having a baby did for her body.
I don’t care what it is. If it makes you happy, your body clearly has an issue with it. A person might be tempted to accuse the body of being a wimp and a whiner.
Suddenly the new happiness and meaning study doesn’t look all that deep.
[happy people photo by PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek via Shutterstock]