Embrace Joy

Chapter 1: Embrace Joy (VIDEO)

Positive emotions, smiling and laughter boost our health and longevity.

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Chapter 1

Embrace Joy (VIDEO)

Positive emotions, smiling and laughter boost our health and longevity. Taking time to laugh, share closeness with those we love and express our joy at life’s pleasures improves our health. Researchers are discovering connections between our well-being and longevity, reduced risk of major illnesses our immune strength. But does anyone really need to be convinced that expressing joy and happiness is an inherently positive thing? We all feel better when we slow down and savor the best things in life. In this wellness center, you will see visualizations showing how joyful interactions benefit your brain, especially its memory and learning centers, as well as your cardiovascular health and immune function. Use these special features to get the most out this wellness center:

What Is Joy?

Doctors don't test you for happiness, Some don't even ask about your emotional life. But there is mounting scientific evidence that an entire array of positive emotions and outlook have dramatic health effects--boosting our immunity, cutting our risk of cardiovascular disease and more. Joy encompasses celebratory emotions and a positive outlook on life. When we are happy, when we are optimistic, when our actions are motivated by compassion or love, our health and longevity can improve.

The Biology of Joy

Our feelings of joy have many facets: compassion, love, happiness, laughter, contentment. These positive feelings are a message from the limbic area of the brain, telling us that things are going well. Current research is exploring how the hormones and neurotransmitters connected with our joyful feelings—especially dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin--may influence our longevity and quality of life. Joyful people have been found, in some studies, to have less pain, better cardiovascular health, and better memory.

Joy & Your Brain

Your emotions are an interweaving of physical, psychological and biochemical reactions to the world around you. Here, we will see that the brain has highly specialized equipment for sorting and processing our feelings.

Born Joyful or Raised Joyful?

Individual differences in temperament and personality certainly help determine a person's “joy” profile. Varying levels of important neurotransmitters--especially dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine—could account for differing capacities for joy. Most people who report being happy have some factors in common: They have high self-esteem, feel some control over the circumstances of their life and they enjoy connecting with others.

The Joy of Motherhood

Every time a mom locks eyes with her newborn baby, powerful changes take place for both of them. They form an emotional connection and caregiving relationship that will last for a lifetime. A baby knows his or her mother's voice, smell and heartbeat during the first day of life, and grows more attached to her with each passing day. Best-selling author Deepak Chopra, M.D., explains how the physical closeness they experience as they explore the world together gives the baby security and fulfills the mother's drive to help her baby thrive.

A Mother`s Love

A woman's emotions during and after pregnancy affect her baby's health. The closeness of the maternal bond can affect the child's well-being and the mother's throughout their relationship.

A Mother`s Nurturing

A 2012 study revealed that when children are nurtured as toddlers, they end up with more tissue density in their brain. Specifically, the hippocampi--brain areas key to learning and regulating stress--were more developed in school-age kids whose mothers displayed nurturing behavior when the kids were toddlers.

Ecstasy & Intimacy

The thrill of new romance revs up your brain! Partners' intimacy can improve their mood, immunity, blood pressure and more.

Joy and Relationships

Humans are social creatures by evolution. Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, Interpersonal Neurobiologist of the UCLA School of Medicine and Mindsight Institute, explains that relationships are the foundation of every aspect of our lives—longevity, health, wisdom and happiness. Healthy relationships are too frequently seen as an “extra” in the modern drive to achieve. But new scientific findings are proving that close, nurturing relationships are not an extra when it comes to our health.

Love & Marriage

Our connection to a loved one defines our engagement with the world, improving contentment, health and quality of life.

Community & Compassion

Connections to others, caring for them and contributing to their well-being are much more than our responsibilities. They are the best course of action for our own health and well-being.

Job Satisfaction

We have all heard our share of complaints about the responsibilities of the working world. But being engaged in a satisfying profession, caring for family members, or doing meaningful volunteer work make a real difference in your sense of well-being. What is it about having meaningful day-to-day responsibilities that improves our lives?

Mindful Awareness and Faith

A person's inner life, religious beliefs and focus on the spirit—no matter what form their reflectiveness or worship takes—has clear benefits for well-being and health.

Who Has Joy?

Even in very challenging times, three out of ten Americans say they are “very happy,” one in ten say "not too happy," and the rest describe themselves as "pretty happy." Pretty good. The Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index tracks the state of life satisfaction through daily changes by surveying about 1,000 every single day to find out about their sense of happiness and well-being.

Follow Your Bliss

“Go forth and be joyful” may seem like overly simple advice. But those who study happiness say that being aware of its importance, and making a conscious commitment to spend more time on the relationships and activities that give you joy, is more than half the equation. Some joyful experiences will be spontaneous. Others may take more thought and effort. Make the effort. Your life will be happier and – perhaps – longer.

Joy & Longevity

When people have a clear purpose and take pleasure in life's many joys, they tend to live longer. Positive engagement in life is your reason to get up in the morning, and to persevere through obstacles and misfortune. Joyful people know that the positive aspects of life are worth the struggle. When we learn to embrace joy and get the most out of life, even through the hard times, every day that we live can be the best day of our life.

Long Happy Life

The evidence is piling up that a positive outlook is one factor that helps reduce the risk of disease for many people. Many variables influence longevity, but this much is certain: Taking a joyful approach to life has never been linked with any major illness!

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