Happiness may be more than state of mind

By MARY CAROLE McCAULEY – Baltimore Sun

McCLATCHY TRIBUNE

“A joyful heart is the health of the body, but a depressed spirit dries up the bones.”

Who knew that the Old Testament sages who wrote the Book of Proverbs were medical researchers in disguise? It seems that laughter really is the best medicine.

Roughly every day, another study is released trumpeting yet another of the health benefits of happiness: Watching funny movies or listening to enjoyable music is good for our hearts. Those who are chipper and upbeat are less likely to catch colds, even after they’re exposed to a virus. And cheerful people have significantly lower levels of a hormone that’s been linked to Type 2 diabetes.

“If you go to a bookstore, you’ll find a million books on happiness,” says Michael Miller, director of the Center for Protective Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “This is an area that’s drawing a lot of interest from researchers and the public. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something economical you could do to improve your health? It doesn’t cost a lot to laugh and release endorphins that might be good for you.”

True enough — and yet, that avalanche of studies, each one saying something slightly different or even downright contradictory, can be more bewildering than enlightening, more anxiety-producing than reassuring.

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/03/31/2067932/happiness-may-be-more-than-state.html#ixzz0jrYJmiiE

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