A sad statistic: Ohio ranks as the 46th happiest state in the U.S. according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Sure, the weather isn’t always that sunny, but 46th? Actually, the survey bases its results on six criteria, including physical health, work environment, and behaviors. The weather doesn’t factor in. Hawaiians are reportedly the happiest bunch.
Is happiness that important? Definitely. Happiness is directly linked to well-being. Get this opening comment in an article published in Science Daily, “A review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects has found ‘clear and compelling evidence’ that – all else being equal – happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.”
The post references a study in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being. Its lead author, University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, is quoted. “I was almost shocked and certainly surprised to see the consistency of the data. All of these different kinds of studies point to the same conclusion: that health and then longevity in turn are influenced by our mood states.”
The connections between happiness and a sense of well-being seem obvious. But those links have practical applications. The study has this to say: “Our overall conclusion is that the evidence for the influence of subjective well-being on health and all-cause mortality is clear and compelling… If high subjective well-being adds 4 to 10 years to life compared to low subjective well-being, this is an outcome worthy of national attention. When one considers that the years lived of a happy person are more enjoyable and experienced with better health, the importance of the subjective well-being and health findings is even more compelling.”
Americans appear to be accepting the influence they have over their own health. Fitness is one of those avenues. The Arnold Sports Festival is a case in point. The yearly event just concluded in Columbus. With 18,000 athletes from around the world competing in various sports, the event features more competitors than this year’s Summer Olympics in London, England.
Jim Lorimer, Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee for Women’s Athletics during the 1960’s is the principle founder of the Arnold Sports Festival. Lorimer and the festival’s namesake, Arnold Schwarzenegger have been friends since they first worked together in 1970.
They got together at the opening of the festival to talk and answer questions. When asked to describe what he most admired about his friend, Lorimer didn’t hesitate. It was Schwarzenegger’s capacity for enjoyment he appreciated the most. It isn’t his physique or power or wealth. It is the way Arnold defines himself in terms of joy.
Comments like those along with published studies connecting happiness and health are compelling arguments for continuing to look at the link between our attitudes and our well-being. It’s not just about the body…there is mental component, a spiritual fitness.