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Does Happiness Make You Live Longer?

I have to be frank and say that I’m usually a glass half empty person. I don’t want to get into my own psyche too much here, except to say that I could stand a bit of an improved worldview. That’s because happy people tend to be healthier people. Stress is a killer. And so is a bad diet and lack of exercise.

Allow me to indulge my glass half empty personality…happy face

We Americans have a bit of a superiority complex. Everything in the U.S. of A is the best. Now, I’m all for some good old-fashioned pride, but there’s a difference between that and hubris.

We live in a free country that is relatively safe. We can roam around this great land without fear of ethnic strife or territorial upheaval. And with a little hard work, we can be successful. Yes, this country is great in so many ways. But when it comes to health, we are pretty darn average.

According to the CIA World Factbook (2007), the life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.06 years. While it’s improved from an historical perspective, the number in current terms is very mediocre. As in 45th on the list! Number one and two are Andorra at 83 years (a tiny European country) and Japan at about 82 years.

Yes, 44 other countries have a population that, on average, lives longer than we do. There are many factors, not the least of which is our dietary habits. But maybe there’s a little bit of the stress from the rat race and competing with the Joneses that comes into play as well.

So, either the happiness factor isn’t such a big deal, or this survey is bogus. It polled people from 97 countries and found that Denmark was the happiest country. They may be “the happiest” because they have a very open and free society. That said, the Danes actually live a few months less than we do.

Needless to say, living a long life is a pretty complex subject with many factors. Too much for this blogger to cover in one sitting.

August 2nd, 2008

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