Happiness can kill, scientists say
London: Feeling happy? Don`t be too smug as chances are that you will die young, scientists say.
An international team, which looked at several studies to find out if happiness has also a dark side, discovered that people who are too full of joy die younger than their more downbeat peers.
They found that children who are rated "highly cheerful" at school went onto die younger than their more reserved classmates, the Daily Telegraph reported.
This is because they are likely to lead more carefree lives full of danger and unhealthy lifestyle choices, believe the researchers.
They may also be more likely to suffer from mental problems such as bipolar depression which sees moods swing from extreme happiness to debilitating sadness, they said.
Being too cheerful -- especially at inappropriate times-- can also rouse anger in others, increasing the risk of a person coming to harm, they pointed out.
The study by a variety of universities analysed the details of children from the 1920s to old age.
The researchers found that people whose school reports rated them "highly cheerful" died younger than their more reserved classmates.
They also discovered that trying too hard to be happy often ended up leaving people feeling more depressed than before, as putting an effort into improving their mood often left people feeling cheated.
Magazine articles offering tips on how to be happy were also blamed for worsening modern day depression.
One study saw participants asked to read an article offering ways to improve your mood, and follow one of the tips to see how effective it was.
Participants then took the advice offered -- such as watching an upbeat film -- often concentrated too hard on trying to improve their mood rather than letting it lift naturally.
This meant that by the time the film had ended, they often felt angry and cheated by the advice given, putting them in a far worse mood than when they had started watching.
However, results of the study, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, revealed that the key to true happiness was much more simple – meaningful relationships with friends and family members.
Professor June Gruber, co-author from the department of psychology at Yale University, said of people who actively tried to be happy: "When you`re doing it with the motivation or expectation that these things ought to make you happy, that can lead to disappointment and decreased happiness.
"The strongest predictor of happiness is not money, or external recognition through success or fame. It`s having meaningful social relationships.
"That means the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about being happy and instead divert your energy to nurturing the social bonds you have with other people.
"If there`s one thing you`re going to focus on, focus on that. Let all the rest come as it will."