Innovation/Global Risk

It’s Official: Good Emotions Are Healthy

By Shlomo Maital



 “Happy” and “Healthy”

 I’ve always had the intuitive feeling that I am healthier when I am happier. And I get ill sometimes when I am really down.  Now a new book by Harvard neuroscientists Richard Davidson and Sharon Begley, “The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live, and How You Can Change Them,” brings proof. 

     Says Davidson:  “There is an intuition in the popular culture that our emotions have something to do with our physical health, but we are just beginning to explore this connection. In our own research, we examined both the brain activity and peripheral biology of a group of individuals by giving them flu shots. It turns out that people who have a more resilient brain profile are the ones who actually have a bigger boost in their immune response when they get a flu vaccine. What it suggests is that more resilient individuals, when exposed to the flu virus, are conferred much greater immunity than a person with a vulnerable emotional style. It suggests that these brain circuits directly communicate with peripheral biological processes, in this case certain features of the immune system, and directly regulate them in ways that are consequential for our health”.  (from

By “resilient”, the authors mean people whose brains adept ‘tribulation’ without depression or emotional decline. 

     Other research, along with that of Davidson, shows there is a direct physical connection between the emotional centers of our brains and other parts of our bodies that control our health and wellbeing. 

    The message here, I believe, to everyone is simple.  Be happy.  Do things that make yourself happy.  You’ll be healthier as a result.  That doesn’t mean pure selfishness. For many of us, making other people happy makes US happy too.  The effect is a ‘multiplier’ – help others, this helps you be healthier, helps others be healthier, they in turn help others…and so on.  Who knows where this powerful ‘wave’ will end?