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Happiness and Longevity

 

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In last Thursday’s post, Don’t Worry Be Happy, I shared some recent research that indicated that our genes seem to be able to tell why we help others. Our genes it seems can tell if we do good for a higher purpose such as helping others, or do good for selfish reasons. The researchers also discovered that when we did good for others it had a positive effect on our genes and our health.

That research reminded me of another study I had read about years ago. The report on the study was titled, Happiness Lengthens Life, again from Science Daily.

The key point in this study is in the first paragraph of the report:

 

Happiness does not heal, but happiness protects against falling ill. As a result, happy people live longer. The size of the effect on longevity is comparable to that of smoking or not. [Emphasis mine.]

This is concluded from an analysis of 30 follow-up studies published in a recent issue of the Journal of Happiness Studies.

The article went on to say:

Happiness does not lengthen the life of seriously ill people, but it does prolong the life of healthy people. Happiness appears to protect against falling ill. One of the mechanisms behind that effect seems to be that chronic unhappiness causes stress, which on its turn reduces immune response.

Another possible mechanism is that happiness adds to the chance of adopting a healthy life style.

A Different View

In their wonderful book, The Longevity Project, Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin did find, “….that healthy1 old 6 people are happy but happy people are not necessarily healthy.” The authors of this book and their long-term study confirm that a correlation has been found between happiness and being healthy in many studies. What they question is whether or not happiness is the direct cause of good heath.

What these authors found from their eight decade long study is that,  1. “active pursuit of goals,”  2. “a deep satisfaction with life,” and 3. “a strong sense of accomplishment,” were the, “ qualities and lifestyle cultivated by those who lived long lives,” not just happiness.

I think those three attitudes taken together create or simple are the bedrock of a happy outlook.

I think the two studies are saying the same thing in different ways.

All I know is, I prefer to be happy and make a conscious effort to be so everyday. Yes. some days are easier than others. However,  I also find when I make other people happy, I am happy.

I also agree with Abraham Lincoln that it is a conscious decision, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

How about you? What do you think?

 

Featured Recipe       Quick Potatoes and Mushrooms in Sour Cream

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I have been making this recipe since the mid-70’s. I found it in some magazine. Cannot tell you which as I just cut the recipe out of the magazine and taped it into a blank binder called, “Special Recipes. This binder now includes recipes received from many different sources including my mother, friends, and relatives, as well as from magazines.

Of course it is easy and delicious.

This is a great recipe to use up left over potatoes. If you do not have any left over potatoes you can cook some per the directions below.

Don’t know why I like this side dish so much. Maybe it is the sour cream. I am one-half Hungarian after all.

This side dish is great with any meat or fish.

This is what you will need for 4 servings:

3 tablespoons butter

1 small onion

½ pound mushrooms

1 pound cooked potatoes (2-3 potatoes)

Dash liquid hot pepper seasoning*

½ cup dairy sour cream – at room temperature

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or

1 teaspoon dried

Salt and pepper to taste

*I omit this ingredient.

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Here is what you do:

Place peeled potato in cold water to cover. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 20 minutes, then drain.

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NOTES: I cut the potatoes into large chunks. It makes cooking time shorter by 5-10 minutes. Do not over cook as I almost did today. I also only used one-half of the onion pictured. Why is it so hard to find small onions in grocery stores these days?

Mince the onion. Clean the mushrooms  – How to Prep Mushrooms – and cut into fourths or eighths if large. Do not cut into slices as shown on the “How To” page link above.

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Dice the dill. I use scissors cause it is quicker and easier. I also do not dice. I cut into small pieces. Think the longer pieces look prettier on the finished dish.

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Drain potatoes when done and remove to  paper towel lined plate and drain and cool the potatoes.

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Let cool and then cut into about one-third inch slices.

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Melt the butter in a large skillet.

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Add potatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and hot pepper seasoning if using. Cook over medium heat, stirring/turning carefully with a spatula about 5 minutes or until heated through.

NOTE: I do not have a big enough skillet to cook all of the potatoes at one time. So I do it in two batches. Remember to use only half of the onions and mushrooms if you need  to finish the potatoes in two batches too. The only reason I tell you this is because I once added all of them to half the potatoes. Now I can be known as the forgetful lazy cook!!!!

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Add the onion and mushrooms. Gently stir into the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes.

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Add the sour cream. And let it melt a bit. Then gently stir to coat the potatoes and mushrooms.

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Sprinkle with the dill and serve immediately.

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Ready to eat.

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Bon appétit!!!

Cost

3 tablespoons butter                 $0.24

1 small onion                           $0.21

½ pound mushrooms               $1.97

1 pound cooked potatoes          $1.18

Dash liquid hot pepper              $0.01

½ cup dairy sour cream           $0.44

1 tablespoon  fresh dill             $0.40

Salt and pepper to taste

Total Cost = $4.4
Cost per serving $1.11

Quotes of the Day

To live long and achieve happiness, cultivate the art of radiating
happiness.

Malcolm Forbes

-AND-

Make one person happy each day and in forty years you will have made 14,600 human beings happy for a little time at least.

Charles Wiley

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3 comments to Happiness and Longevity

  • I couldn’t agree more. When I was 12, my father sat me down after my mother had been unreasonably unkind to me and he told me that all through my life, people would disappoint and let me down. I had two choices. I could let the other person’s actions determine my happiness or I could say, “to hell with your opinion” and choose to be happy.

    I’ve never forgotten it and I’ve never been unhappy for more than a few minutes at a time.

    Roberta, this dish is glorious!!

    • Roberta

      What a wonderful lesson your father taught you. I should have just let you write this post. You said it all and better than I did in your comment.

      BTW – my father told me essentially the same thing when I complained about my mother once too.

      Glad you like the potatoes too! 🙂

  • Yes, happy people do get sick, however I believe strongly that happy people are healthier than sad and/or depressed people. Happiness improves the immune system.
    Love the recipe!