Everyone knows that being happy feels good, but is there more to it than just a feeling?
I read about a large-scale happiness study this week and it got me thinking that perhaps happiness is a superpower that we can all access.
This study – published last August in the peer-reviewed Journal of Happiness Studies – tracked the emotional wellbeing of nearly 1 million US Army soldiers over a 5-year period. The paper set out to answer two broad questions: which comes first (happiness, or job performance) and how much does happiness matter to success?
The strength of the results were surprising. It’s clear that happiness and optimism have a huge impact on performance at work, in teams, and in life.
Happiness and mindset
As any of my clients will tell you, mindset work is a big part of my performance coaching (alongside the nutrition and fitness). People are often surprised to discover how ingrained beliefs are holding them back. If your self-belief leads to pessimism or unhappiness, it’s easy to see how this could impact your health and fitness.
What is happiness?
Happiness can be defined as living life in tune with your values. That’s why it’s so important to identify and name your core personal values. Happiness takes many forms: joy, contentment, confidence. But they all stem from knowing that you are living life in alignment with what matters to you.
How happiness can make you healthier
Studies have shown that having a negative outlook on life can actually increase your risk of heart disease. And I think there are other links between happiness and health.
Making healthy food choices
Low mood is closely linked to overeating, binge eating, and poor food choices. When we feel happy, we are more likely to choose foods that nourish and energise our body.
Being more active
Mood is closely linked to activity and this has a cumulative effect over time. People who tend towards a negative mindset are more likely to have low self-image and want to stay inside. People who feel positive and optimistic often have more energy and want to workout or go for a walk.
A positive mood is more likely to drive us outdoors into the fresh air to be active. Whether this is tackling the garden or going for a run or cycle, it has a knock on effect on health.
Caring about your body
When you have a generally positive relationship with your body, you want to look after it. Happier people tend to make healthier choices regarding food, participation in exercise, and even around sleep and bedtime.
Healthy choices and happiness go hand in hand, so even when you don’t feel great I encourage you to make good food choices, move your body, and go to bed at a reasonable time. You’ll wake up feeling happier.
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