“We’re going to be trying to see if the old adage that happiness makes you healthier is true,” says Professor Laura Kubzansky. She is co-director of the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness, recently opened on the campus of Harvard’s school of public health.
The center will bring together leading experts to explore what makes people happy as well as different ways to measure that happiness. Researchers will also examine the link between mental health and physical health in an effort to gain a broader understanding of human well-being. They plan to look at different aspects of our daily lives that can impact our happiness and well-being, including the role of television and social media.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether or not happiness is tied to a longer lifespan, but a previous Harvard study found that optimism actually cut people’s risk of heart disease by 50 percent—a pretty good indicator that there is something there worth examining.
The Center for Health and Happiness will enlist the help of experts in numerous fields of study, including anthropology, psychology, and sociology, as well as biology, nutrition, and epidemiology. The ultimate goal, say researchers, is to provide information and practices people can use to live “longer, happier, and healthier lives.”