We know that happy people carry a certain spark that lights up a room. When we are in the presence of a truly happy person we cannot help but feel lighter and more expansive ourselves. But does this buoyancy translate to greater health?

In a word Yes!

Happy people tend to be that way because they say Yes! to life. Maintaining a positive attitude and appreciating all aspects of life contribute to happiness. And they are also hallmarks of a person who is not stressed. Happy people are less likely to be stressed, which means there is less cortisol and other stress hormones floating around in their systems.

This means they are less likely to develop stress-related illnesses like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Relatively stress-free people often recover more quickly from illnesses, and are more likely to survive life-threatening diseases.

Happy people have stronger immune systems. A 2004 study at Carnegie Mellon University found that when happy people were exposed to a cold virus, they were less likely to catch the cold than people who did not report being happy. And if they did catch it, their symptoms were less severe than the group that did not report having the same level of happiness.

The Journal of Happiness Studies (yes, there is such a thing) published a report that stated that happiness is as important to health as not smoking, in otherwise healthy individuals.

On average, happy people live ten years longer than those who do not report the high levels of positivity, optimism, satisfaction, and joyfulness that happy people experience.

Happiness seems to be the most important factor for maintaining health. One study found that being happy was even more important for a persons health than having their basic physical needs met.

Happiness may be more of a prevention than a cure, however. It tends to help healthy people stay healthy and live longer lives, but has not been proven as a successful treatment for disease. But we have seen time and again that as people become happier, their health improves. It may not be scientifically proven yet, but we believe that happiness can help transform disease.

Get Happier to Be Healthier

You can cultivate life-preserving happiness, whatever your age or situation, by trying one of these techniques.

* Meditation Mindfulness practices like meditation and Yoga train the mind to focus on the present moment. Happy people do not get caught up regretting the past or fearing the future, they are fully present in and aware of the current moment. This allows them to appreciate the beauty and blessings of their life.

* Share – Studies have found that giving makes people happier than taking. When people volunteer or make donations, especially as a regular practice, it generates a lasting sense of contentment and joy.

Also, truly happy people tend to share their time and lives with people they love. They usually have a network of supportive friends and social connections, which contributes greatly to their sense of connection and fulfillment.

* Cultivate Experiences At the end of their lives, happy people fondly remember the experiences they had and the people they loved, not the stuff they acquired. Travel, create art, spend time with your family, and participate in activities you truly enjoy.

The road to health is paved with positivity. Cultivating happiness may be the most important thing you can do for your health. By choosing to be happy, you will also create more joy in the world around you. Whatever your age or circumstances, your health can be benefited by happiness.