Don’t worry, be unhappy

Study of women in UK finds happiness does not impact life expectancy

British adventurer Sarah Outen sprays a bottle of champagne on the River Thames in London on November 3, 2015. (DANIEL SORABJI/AFP/Getty Images)

A new study, published in medical journal Lancet, of nearly 1 million women in the UK around the age of 60 has found that unhappiness does not impact life expectancy. Co-author Professor Sir Richard Peto of the University of Oxford says that many people believe unhappiness attracts illness, and tend to blame the unhappiness of the sick as being the very cause of their suffering. “The claim that this [unhappiness] is an important cause of mortality is just nonsense,” says Peto.

People who were sick were more likely to feel unhappy, and unhappiness can drive unhealthy self-harming behaviors, but death rates among the unhappy are no higher than those who said they were usually happy. Dr. Bette Lieu of the University of New South Wales in Australia says the study shows that people have been reversing cause and effect when it comes to happiness and health: “Illness makes you unhappy,” she says, “but unhappiness doesn’t make you ill.” On the bright side, this news gives miserable people a reason to feel better. The downside, of course, is that feeling better won’t make them live any longer either.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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