Can practicing Peak BrainHappiness Training or Happi Focus Training improve your long-term health? Odds are, they can. The evidence is now considerably more convincing, due to two key findings, combining our clinical study with a large analysis that combined many studies on happiness and future health.
In this study, researchers asked the subjects to raise their level of Neureka! using neurofeedback with the Peak BrainHappiness Trainer for 10 sessions, each 25 minutes long. They observed that Neureka! levels and happiness ratings both increased over the time they spent training.
After the Neureka! training sessions in our study, the subjects reported themselves 32% happier. Dr. Estate Sokhadze (Dept. of Psychiatry, Univ. of Louisville, now at Duke) and Dr. Jon Cowan (Peak Achievement Training) used the same question that the Australian happiness study did [see below] in our study to evaluate their happiness. We now have evidence from a follow-up study, that the enhanced happiness lasts at least 4 months.
157 of 160 Studies Link Current Happiness to Future Health
A press release from the University of Illinois on March 2, 2011 stated: “Happy or positive people tend to have better health and live longer than their counterparts who are unhappy” U.S. researchers say. In their research study, Dr. Ed Diener, the late professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (and researcher for Gallup), and his colleagues reviewed more than 160 studies involving humans and animals under stress.” The UPI article quotes Dr. Diener: “I was almost shocked and certainly surprised to see the consistency of the data. All of these different kinds of studies point to the same conclusion: that health and then longevity in turn are influenced by our mood states. Happiness is no magic bullet, but the evidence is clear and compelling that it changes your odds of getting disease or dying young.”
The Large Australian Study Links Present Happiness to Future Health
One of the articles that Diener cited is the study done by the Australian Dept. of Labour and analyzed by Siahpush et al., [See Abstract] They surveyed nearly 10,000 people in 2001 and again in 2004. Siahpush et al’s results from analyzing the survey indicated that those who were happy most of the time in 2001 were over 50% more likely to be both healthier and free of long term health concerns in 2004.
We used the same question about happiness that the Australians did to evaluate the changes in happiness from Neureka! training. The ratings that our subjects gave on that question are summarized in the chart above here. This implies that Neureka! training can have benefits for health.
Happiness Leads to Success
For those who are looking for a more immediate payoff, enhancing happiness may also improve success. Several years later, Lyubomirsky and Diener published an article showing that this is actually more likely than success leading to happiness [See Abstract]. They discussed several different kinds of success – marriage, friendship, income, work performance and health — and came to the same conclusion for each.
The Surgeon General Sees the Connection
An Erroneous Contrary View
Unfortunately, almost at the same time, the British Journal Lancet published a very large epidemiological study by Bette Liu and colleagues claiming exactly the opposite–that happiness did not affect future death rates. This was reported on CBS Sunday Morning and elsewhere. The study contained a number of methodological errors and poor assumptions, and was soon called into question by an OpEd piece in the LA Times, authored by Dr. Diener and his colleagues. Dr. Cowan spotted one of the major problems that they referred to and wrote to the author. It seems that those British women who were unhappiest–those that went to a doctor with complaints and were labelled as depressed or anxious–were considered as having a health problem from the onset of the prospective study, which then examined death rates, and corrected statistically for these health problems. Dr. Cowan wrote to Dr. Liu, who finally pointed him to a Table (#2) in the Appendix in which you can “see effects”, according to her. There is at least a 14% improvement in death rate if you are “happy most of the time” rather than unhappy. So the original finding that enhanced happiness leads to future improved health stands.
A More Basic Approach to a Psychobiological System