Happiness is a metaphorical-philosophical endeavor — George Carlin nailed it: ‘More than happy. I bet you say that one. You say to somebody. “Oh, I’d be more than happy to do that.” How can you be more than happy? To me it sounds like a dangerous mental condition. We had to put Dave in the mental home. He was … more than happy.’
Even more of ‘happy‘ wouldn’t necessarily mean you’d be happier, and now apparently ‘being happy‘ won’t bring a longer life. After you define ‘happy,’ and somehow obtain it, supposedly you’d be in better shape, mentally and physically, and reportedly, live to a fairly-decent old age.
Hold that beaming smile — in a recent study published in the Lancet, research found ‘happiness‘ doesn’t actually mean a great deal in the scheme of living.
‘Happy‘ don’t got the power after all…
(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Musician, Dancer, Goat & Bird‘ found here).
As it turns out, earlier research on ‘happy’ and ‘health’ was “reverse causality,” where the end effect influenced the beginning — in which ‘unhappiness’ was a byproduct of the illnesses that led to death.
Reality is not all that happy — from ScienceAlert this morning:
“We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about ageing that individuals sometimes internalise from society that can result in pathological brain changes,” said one of the researchers, Becca Levy.
“Although the findings are concerning, it is encouraging to realise that these negative beliefs about ageing can be mitigated and positive beliefs about ageing can be reinforced, so that the adverse impact is not inevitable.”
But according to the researchers looking at the data from the UK Million Women Study, any studies that have tied unhappiness levels to reduced mortality haven’t correctly allowed for the significant extent to which ill health causes people to feel miserable and stressed.
“Many still believe that stress or unhappiness can directly cause disease, but they are simply confusing cause and effect,” said one of the researchers, Richard Peto from the University of Oxford in the UK.
“Of course people who are ill tend to be unhappier than those who are well, but the UK Million Women Study shows that happiness and unhappiness do not themselves have any direct effect on death rates.”
But when they controlled for factors such as health, they found that there was not statistically significant difference between the women who were happy and those who were unhappy.
In other words, it wasn’t their happiness that was linked to mortality, but other things, most notably their health, that was really driving the connection.
“Our results show that being happier doesn’t make you live longer,” says Liu.
“Being happier in itself doesn’t make you live longer. It’s the poor health of those individuals who are unhappy that actually explains why they might have higher death rates.”
So don’t be unhappy, or less happy, and whatever — the jocular is in the eye of the brain.
Richard Peto, a co-author on the study and a professor of medical statistics at Oxford University (via The Atlantic):
“I think the interesting implication is we’ve got very few things that really matter as far as health is concerned,” Peto says.
He names smoking and obesity as two things that are very good predictors of mortality.
But unhappiness, it seems, is not at all on their level.
“You could say it’s good news for the grumpy,” he says.
One fractious old fart is ‘more than happy….‘