Don't worry, be happy! It's good for your heart health

I always knew that being a happy, positive person had its benefits. Science had proven in the past that being someone who is chronically angry, anxious or depressed meant a higher risk of heart attacks.

I mean, how could it not? If you're always worried and freaking out about something or other, of COURSE it's going to put an extra strain on your heart. Stress causes more damage than we could ever really imagine, but the good news in this equation is that the opposite is also true: a positive outlook on life actually has a very, very good effect on your heart.


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Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, led by Julia Boehm, have reviewed dozens of studies that examine the effect that a positive outlook can have on heart health and found that optimism is the clear key to keep your ticker in top shape throughout your life.

Basically what this all means is that being happy is a good way to keep your risk of heart attacks down, since the researchers found that in a number of studies the most optimistic people had half the risk of a first heart attack when compared to the pessimistic. Apparently the stress associated with negative psychological traits can lead to damage to your arteries. Not only that but the researchers found that people with a "better sense of well-being tend to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, and are more likely to exercise, eat healthier, get enough sleep and avoid smoking."

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I see examples of this all around me: my friends who always keep an optimistic attitude definitely seem like the healthiest people I know, while my dad stresses out about everything and often worries about his rising blood pressure and heart health. I try to remind him that he's probably doing the damage himself, and I'm glad that now I can show him real evidence as to why I'm right.

It's not always easy being a happy, positive person, but I think with this news it's definitely worth making the effort. And yes, sometimes it's a real effort. We all have bad days but I'm committed to reminding myself of all of the little things that make me happy (fresh flowers, a manicure, seeing my family, etc) and hopefully, improving my heart health in the process. I mean, if putting a smile on my face daily will keep my heart feeling good, then what's the harm in that?

What do you do to turn that frown upside down?

Image via D.Clow - Maryland/flickr