There is now a widely accepted understanding that what we think about affects how we feel, and how we feel in turn affects our health.
Yep, in this world of cause and effect, a cheerful disposition really is hugely protective of your health. And, there’s more than just one reason. We’ve known for a long time that negativity, sadness and pessimism are extremely stressful and over time can go a long way to ruin our health. Our ‘Fight or Flight’ response actually suppresses digestion and immune function, which is OK in the short term, but disastrous in the long. A good reason to seek the positive in all situations, especially in this stressful world.
We now know of another mechanism that is protective of our health. Vital parts of our immune system are the Natural Killer Cells or NK cells, white blood cells that protect us from invading microbes and from cancer cells. Studies have shown us that as these NK cells become less active, the more rapid cancer can spread. And yes, these important protectors of our health do respond to our mood.
And, guess what? One of the best ways to give these Natural Killer Cells a boost is through laughter! When you are feeling happy, optimistic, and looking on the bright side of life, these protective cells actually grow exponentially! Yes, exponentially! We’re not talking about a small effect here.
But what if you have a more pessimistic disposition? Well, this is why you still have a chance.
A University of California study showed that actors performing upsetting or depressing movie scenes had a depressed immune response, whereas actors performing more uplifting roles actually had a raised immune response. So, what does this mean? Well, even if you don’t feel so happy, at least try and act like you do. A bit like “Fake it till you make it”. Your body’s immune system will thank you for it.
Here’s my advice. Don’t spend your time with negative people who drag you down. Stay around uplifting people whenever you can. Yep, choose your friends wisely as they really can affect your health. Also, why not try taking in more comedy shows, or reading funny books, in fact, anything that makes you feel good. For me it’s being with friends and family in nature — works every time.