Richmond has been named the happiest of London boroughs according to a survey carried out by the property website Rightmove.
The survey comprised 24,000 people who were asked a number of questions about the places they lived including how proud they felt to live there, how safe they felt, how friendly their neighbours were and how satisfied they were with how the place looked.
Environmental factors can play a large part in how we feel about our surroundings and the subsequent impact they have upon our happiness. This in turn determines our mood and overall sense of wellbeing and health.
How does happiness affect our health?
It’s obviously not as simple as if you are happy, you are healthy, but according to experts,
“If you have a good sense of well-being, it’s easier to maintain good habits: Exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep, people who have an optimistic mind-set may be more likely to engage in healthy behaviours because they perceive them as helpful in achieving their goals.”
Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioural sciences at Harvard School of Public Health.
An improved sense of wellbeing and overall happiness has also been linked to lower blood pressure, a healthier weight, a stronger immune system and can help us live longer too.
In a survey conducted at the University of California in Los Angeles, researchers found that there were two types of happiness; hedonic and eudaimonic.
Hedonic happiness relates to feelings of happiness that come from the pursuit of happiness – what you do to make yourself happy. This is often associated with more superficial aspects, such as earning more money, or pursuing certain things for pleasure.
Eudaimonic relates to happiness connected to a deeper sense of wellbeing and harmony –so feelings of happiness. These feelings can often be linked to a person’s DNA and ward of disease in some circumstances.
The researchers tested their theory by collecting blood samples from 80 healthy adults. They also screened them for the two different types of happiness, as well as looking at their behavioural traits.
The results showed that both types of happiness generated the same positive emotions in all the adults. However, upon closer examination of their DNA and chemical reactions, the researchers were able to further develop their findings on how different types of happiness affect our health.
Researchers found that the two different types of happiness have very different effects on our chemical responses and DNA. We are far more sensitive to feelings of happiness, rather than the conscious decisions we make. Furthermore, the researchers believe that we have evolved in this way in order to adapt to our surroundings as they have changed throughout the ages, so we can respond accordingly. In essence, this means that what we are shown or made to feel emotionally, has far more impact than superficial gestures when it comes to our health and happiness.
For more information on how to achieve increased health, happiness and general wellbeing, you can visit NHS Choices.