I heard an interesting broadcast about the science of happiness.
I have always thought the ‘happier the better’ but I now hear, you can be too happy!
There was a piece of research which became known as ‘the Nun Study’ (by Deborah D Danner) (http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/80/5/804/) and was was carried out in a convent where nuns all eat the same food and work the same schedules and basically have a similar lifestyle – especially in terms of amounts of alcohol and tobacco consumed.
When a new nun (mean age of 22 years old) was admitted to this convent, she was asked to fill in a cleverly designed survey to assess how happy she was and how optimistic. The nuns were tracked over the years and their survival ages monitored when they were between 75 and 95.
The unexpected discovery was that the most happy and optimistic tended, statistically speaking, to die younger than many of the less optimistic and happy nuns! (The research did say also that the miserable pessimistic ones tended not to outlive the happiest nuns!)
The researchers concluded that because the optimistic, happy bunny nuns were so optimistic, they forgot to worry about signs of problems – e.g a skin mole that subsequently turned into cancer. Whereas the less happy and optimistic ones immediately worried – and then, went and got it checked and then treated sooner.