Updated: May 27, 2020
That's a weird headline, right? It's assuming two things:
1. That we aren't happy.
2. That happiness is a nutrient (?!!)
We live in a strange world now. Something as essential and important to life, such as being happy, is now considered frivolous or second to long work days, exercise, eating "clean" and being "successful". It's also often considered selfish to want to be happy.
But today, I want to make it CLEAR that happiness is not a luxury - it's a necessity. Happiness is not selfish, it's essential.
This isn't some esoteric, intangible concept. This is something that can be measured and explained with alllll the science-y deets (as you know that I will obviously rant on below 🤓). Today I'm going to make the case for why you are probably "deficient" in this vital nutrient - happiness - and how you can get more of it.
Why should we consider it a "nutrient"?
A nutrient by definition is:
A substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life.
Take a look at that last part: "essential for growth and the maintenance of life". This means that a nutrient by definition is something that is necessary to live, grow and THRIVE.
Let me pose a question to you. When do you feel like you're in more of a state of growth...
1. when you're grinding away at work, limiting your time spent with friends, getting horrible sleep and stressing over eating "clean" food all. the. TIME.
2. when you are happy at your job, spending time with your loved ones, enjoying meals that you love AND that make you feel good, and getting deep, awesome sleep?
There's the esoteric part of this case. Now let's get to the science.
Happiness boosts your immune system
One of the best ways to determine if something is the CAUSE of a reaction is with a study that imposes a treatment (as compared to those that simply observe correlations). In one of these types of studies, scientists took 334 volunteers and exposed each of them to two different cold viruses. The scientists then assessed their positive vs. negative emotions to determine how "happy" each volunteer was. The study found that those who experienced more positive emotions were less likely to get sick and developed less symptoms if they did get sick compared to those who experienced more unhappy emotions.
It also lowers your cortisol levels
As #AENpeeps, you know that high levels of cortisol leads to weight gain around the belly, decreased immune system, increased anxiety levels, increased insulin resistance and increased risk of heart disease (among many other issues). Well, one study found that those who rate themselves higher as "happy" have a 22% decrease in their cortisol levels compared to those who rated themselves less happy. Not only are they less stressed as a result of the decreased cortisol, they are also HAPPY.