Fact or Fiction: Happiness and Health

Staff

The more money you have the happier you'll be.

Happiness does seem to be related to money -- up to a point. Most studies show that money is only one factor in determining happiness.

Studies have shown that people living in Third World slums are just as happy as everyone else.

Yes -- another show of proof for the theory that money can't buy happiness.

Studies have shown that acquiring possessions makes people happier than life experiences like travel.

Once again, it's not about things! Positive life experiences do much more to increase happiness.

Unhappy people are generally just as healthy as happy people.

Nope, most studies show a definite correlation between health and happiness.

Happiness may be as important a factor in overall health as someone's smoking habits.

According to a 2006 study, "The effect of happiness on longevity in healthy populations is remarkably strong. The size of the effect is comparable to that of smoking or not."

Happiness might make you resistant to heart disease and strokes.

Yes, happiness appears to make people less vulnerable to both conditions.

But strangely, happy people in one study were more vulnerable to the cold virus than unhappy people.

A study at Carnegie Mellon University found that the happy people were more resistant to the cold virus.

Studies show that depressed adults are 90 percent more likely to have Type 2 diabetes.

There is a correlation, but the numbers are actually more like 60 percent, possibly because the stress hormone cortisol raises blood sugar levels.

If you're happy and healthy, chances are you'll have a longer life. But if you're happy and unhealthy, your happiness probably won't help your longevity.

Apparently, happiness can only go so far. It won't make you well if you're already unhealthy.

If you want to improve your happiness -- and thus your health -- meditation would be a good thing to try.

Daily meditation has been shown to have very positive effects on happiness and health.

If you find a way to make yourself happier, your health will probably improve right away.

Your health will most likely improve, but it might take up to three years. So be patient while you're being happy!

Another study found a more important link between happiness and health than basic needs and health.

A worldwide study of more than 150,000 adults showed that even among people who were lacking food, water and shelter, happiness still boosted health.

Women become less happy as they age, and men become happier.

Sorry, ladies. Regardless of health, men seem to get happier and women get unhappier as they age.

According to one study, a happy 70-year-old man can expect to live almost two years longer than his unhappy counterpart.

One study in the 1980s did come to that conclusion -- the happy man lives, on average, 20 months longer.

People in societies where happiness is not necessarily an objective are more apt to commit suicide than those in other, "more happy" countries.

The opposite is actually true. British psychologist Richard P. Bentall says that China has a lower suicide rate than the United States, even though its citizens report being less satisfied with life than Americans are. So, the thinking goes, maybe if you don't expect to be happy, you don't mind so much when you're not.

Regular exercise can make you healthier, but not necessarily happier.

Actually, exercise can make you healthier and, by extension, happier. And it goes beyond "I'm happy because I'm making my body healthier." Exercise lowers your levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, and also stimulates mind-boosting endorphins.

Fish oil supplements can make you healthier (by improving brain function) and happier (by curbing depression).

A recent international study found that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil pills decrease depression -- and even psychosis -- in people at high risk for both.

The more involved people are with their own health-care decisions, the less happy they are.

The opposite is true. The more you take charge of your health, the happier -- and healther -- you will be.

People in underdeveloped countries with little access to health care are generally unhappy with the situation.

To the contrary, people who live in places with low standards of health care often report high levels of health satisfaction. And people who are used to high standards of care are often unhappy about their health. Again, it's a question of expectations.

According to the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index, Sweden is the happiest country in the world, in part because of its high life expectancy and access to high-quality health care.

Costa Rica, a relatively poor country with great health care, is No. 1. More proof that money doesn't necessarily buy happiness -- but maybe health does.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

For a long time, little research was done to link health and happiness, but now the tides are turning. Study after study looks for connection between the two. So, what's the verdict? Are healthy people happier? Are happy people healthier?

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!