What is joy? Throughout the ages, philosophers and poets have struggled to define happiness.
In the meantime, scientists have realized that your mental state significantly impacts your physical wellbeing. Instead of being two distinct beasts, human emotions and physiology may be one, explaining why a positive attitude often leads to better outcomes.
Here’s why finding joy is so good for your health.
1. It’s Good For Your Heart
When was the last time you felt joyous when under enormous stress? The two mental states are incompatible. Finding things that bring you happiness can tame the tension that often leads to cardiovascular trouble.
According to the University of Rochester, high cortisol levels from long-term stress can increase triglycerides, blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar. These changes promote the buildup of plaque deposits in arteries that can lead to a heart attack.
Additionally, prolonged stress can affect your blood’s clotting ability, making you a more likely stroke candidate. It can even cause long-term changes in your brain that keep your blood pressure elevated.
Find small ways to build joy into every day. Sign up for an extracurricular class with your kids and rediscover your joy of painting. Treat yourself to a bubble bath instead of your usual nightly shower – it will do your heart and soul good.
2. It Gets Your Body Moving
People with depression often find it challenging to exercise even when they know that doing so would boost their moods. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep can make symptoms worse or even lead to the disorder’s onset.
Conversely, when you feel joy, moving your body comes naturally. It’s no different from a newborn or baby deer delighting in manipulating their limbs for the first time.
Therefore, when the mood strikes, make hay while the sun shines. Get up and dance around your living room when your favorite jam comes over your speakers. The movement increases the flow of endorphins that further boosts your mood.
3. It Cultivates Positive Energy
You probably noticed that it’s challenging to focus on getting things done when you lack joy in your life. Happiness creates the positive energy you need to tackle your daily tasks with a smile.
Fortunately, you can take steps to create a positive energy shift. One of the simplest ways to do so is to smile. When you do, you more quickly recover from stress and decrease your heart rate.
4. It Can Help You Lose Weight
If you are one of many adults struggling with excess pounds, you aren’t alone. According to the CDC, more than a third of U.S. adults are obese, and even more fall into the overweight category. However, being in good company doesn’t negate the health risks of carrying too many extra pounds.
When you feel happy, you tend to make better choices. For example, how many times have you said, “I need a drink,” not to celebrate with champagne but take the edge off a trying day? Doing so too often can spur hormonal changes that make you gain weight around the waist, which is where many researchers consider to be the most dangerous.
Even eating healthy tastes better when you feel joy. The stress hormone cortisol often makes you crave foods high in fat and sugar to prepare your body for a prolonged onslaught. A salad looks far more appetizing when you are feeding your belly, not your emotions.
5. You Make Friends More Easily
According to research published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, emotional loneliness causes a nearly 20% increase in all-cause mortality. Your social circle can help keep you alive longer.
However, few people enjoy hanging out with a negative Nancy. When you spread joy, people naturally gravitate toward your light, and you grow your tribe – leading to even more positive vibes.
6. You Improve Family Relationships
Your family plays a significant role in your overall happiness, but it isn’t a one-way street. Behaving with more joy makes them want to spend more time with you and lovingly respond when they do.
The next time your 4-year-old accidentally drops the milk, make a game out of cleaning it up instead of scolding them. You could roll your eyes or share a good-natured laugh when you realize they arrived at daycare with their shirt inside out — which reaction will share more joy?
7. You Enjoy Better Mental Health
Your mental health plays a significant role in the length and quality of your life. Tragically, suicide remains the tenth leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Feeling joy is incompatible with depression. However, it’s vital to remember that emotional states come and go — when you do feel blue, accept it and remind yourself that it will pass.
8. You Decrease Stress
Stress is a tricky mistress. It compels you to act, but it clouds your judgment, meaning that your behaviors sometimes make an already tough situation worse.
When you invite more joy into your life by taking time to smell the flowers while enjoying a post-dinner stroll, you clear your mind and refresh your perspective. This pause enables you to make choices that improve your situation and lead to greater happiness.
Find Your Joy Today — Your Health Will Thank You
Science supports the idea that finding joy is good for your health. Now that you know the benefits, do more to make yourself smile today.