Count Your Kindnesses, Live Longer

So it seems you don’t have to give up martinis to add a few years to your life. All you have to do is keep track of your good deeds.

A new report at the University of Illinois shares evidence that happy, positive people have longer and healthier lives than folks who are stressed and depressed. The research team reviewed over 160 different past studies to come up with their conclusion. “Happiness is no magic bullet,” says Ed Diener, psychologist and lead author, in a news release. “But the evidence is clear and compelling that it changes your odds of getting disease or dying young.”

How do you get to happy? Separate research in Japan has found that people can increase their own level of happiness just by adding up their week’s worth of good deeds. Furthermore, they become kinder in the process. I’m no scientist, but even a layperson can draw the obvious connection: Count your own kindnesses, live to a hundred.

So next time you do a good deed, make a mental note to remember it. Give yourself permission to wallow in your kindness. It’s good for your health, and it’s so much more fun than wallowing in your own misery. Or giving up martinis, for that matter.

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