Happiness: The Key to Longevity?


Older man tells a story (Albert Moldvay)


“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George Burns

If you’re happy and you know it, you may just live longer than the sad sack sitting next to you.  Researchers at University College London  have found that happier people are 35% less likely to die over the next five years than their less joyful counterparts.  The researchers argue that efforts should be made to promote happiness in older people, such as interventions that assure adequate health care, finances and social support.

Meanwhile, biologists at the University of Toronto have proven that stress can be a real killer, especially if you are a dragonfly. During a recent study, dragonfly larvae were put into aquarium tanks where they could see and smell potential predators without coming into physical contact with them. Being in such close proximity to a predator–even one that couldn’t eat them–was so stressful that survival rates for these dragonflies were 2.5 to 4.3 times less than those not exposed to predators. The stress actually killed them.

So, the moral of the story is: stay happy and stress free…and avoid hungry predators.

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Human Journey

Meet the Author
Since 2005, Michael has been a librarian at National Geographic.