Enjoyment of life - why is it important for one’s health and longevity

By Vladimir Marchenko

  1. What is life satisfaction
  2. How life satisfaction is achieved
  3. Does happiness always depend on money
  4. Natural loss of satisfaction
  5. Impact of life satisfaction on health

What is life satisfaction

Life satisfaction is understood as a subjective-objective assessment of enjoying each day lived. That is, it depends both on the internal attitude to the sufficiency of certain benefits for the individual, and on a set of certain external factors (the availability of shelter, food, earnings, relationships). Accordingly, it is not possible to create an unbiased scale for assessing satisfaction, since it is almost always associated with a specific person, their level of needs and the size of their satisfaction.

For example, according to the results of a survey conducted in 2020 by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, 47% of the surveyed residents of Russian Federation said that they were satisfied with life. 29% were partly satisfied and partly not. 23% expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of things.

The American Gallup Institute gives the following data for 2021: 82% of US citizens surveyed said that they were happy with everything in their personal lives. Of these, 51% are very satisfied and 31% are partially satisfied. This is the usual average for the United States, peaking at 90% in 2020, and dropping in 1973 at around 73%. Researchers point out that Americans are generally satisfied with life and that their level of happiness is usually correlated with employment and economic stability.

Life satisfaction children
The countries with the happiest children in 2020

At the same time, the happiest countries in 2020 were Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway according to the UN World Happiness Report. Their level of enjoyment is made up of a number of factors: freedom of choice, trust in social and political institutions, life expectancy, support from friends and family, generosity.

How life satisfaction is achieved

There are many ways to increase your joy in life. It can be moving to a new place, being promoted at work, starting a family, getting an exciting hobby, or making a pilgrimage to an iconic place. Events related to the external and internal world have an equal force. When working on oneself internally, meditative practices, self-hypnosis, and repetition of affirmations are used. They help to enjoy every day by using the inner reserves of a person.

A great solution is offered by the mobile application for iOS Hypnopedia. When used, thematic affirmations are played during the user's sleep. This became possible thanks to scientific research in recent years, confirming the possibility of limited assimilation of information in sleep, and a unique algorithm written specifically for Apple Watch sensors. As a result, affirmations are reproduced several times throughout the night at an optimal time, but at the same time they do not awaken the user and do not require conscious perception. They are remembered on a subconscious level, and the effect remains even after waking up. Additionally, there are also melodies and sounds for falling asleep and a high-precision "smart" alarm clock.

Download app fo free:

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Other ways to enjoy life

1. Create a work-life balance

2. Adhere to a healthy diet and exercise regularly, do relaxation practices.

3. Discover something new every day.

4. Communicate with like-minded people.

5. Smile and have a simpler attitude towards life.

6. Engage in hobbies and things you love.

7. Change the field of work if necessary.

8. Spend money wisely.

9. Help others.

10. Follow your dream.

Does happiness always depend on money?

At first glance, the dependence of satisfaction on financial well-being seems obvious. In the top ten leading countries from the UN report we mentioned, there are 9 highly developed European states and New Zealand. However, on the 15th place one can see Costa Rica, on the 24th and 26th - Mexico and Uruguay, and on the 35th - the partially recognized republic of Kosovo. At the same time, African countries dominate in the second hundred. On average, in the world, the prevailing score on the "Cantril ladder" is 5 out of 10, where the 1st step corresponds to "the worst possible life", and the 10th - the "best possible".

It was noted that over the past 50 years, the level of provision of Western countries residents has increased 4 times on average, but the degree of satisfaction has not changed so dramatically. In 2010, a study by Princeton University indicated that only those who had an income of about USD 75,000 per year (or USD 6,250 per month) can be called absolutely happy, and the further increase of income did not lead to an improvement in the internal state. For a long time, this conclusion was considered an axiom and new research was not carried out.

life satisfaction and finance

However, in early 2021, Matthew A. Killingsworth published an article “Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $ 75,000 per year”. Based on 1,725,994 reports and the experience of 33,391 employed adult workers in the United States, it was concluded that both experienced and estimated well-being increases linearly on a log scale (income), with an equally steep slope for both higher earners and for people with lower income. In simple words, the growth of financial security invariably pulls up life satisfaction, no matter whether we are talking about an increase from 20,000 per year to 60,000 or from 60,000 to 180,000. That is, even if the exact amounts have not been established, with an increased prosperity, you can reduce suffering (not thinking about food, shopping, recreation) and discover new opportunities. 74% of those surveyed put the financial component in the first place, as vital for satisfaction. At the same time, the stronger the hope that money would bring happiness, the lower the “rise” in the satisfaction score turned out to be.

Natural loss of satisfaction

In addition to the money angle that can “manage” the degree of satisfaction, the expected decline occurs with age. Older people develop physical and mental health problems. They move less often, eat worse, and are less involved in social connections. “Positive Effects on Life Satisfaction Following Health-Promoting Interventions for Frail Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Study” (2013) attempted to analyze the condition of people aged 80+ and establish whether the decline in satisfaction can be delayed. The decline was ultimately observed in all three groups of subjects, however, in those two where meetings and visits to the elderly were held, the deterioration in self-esteem and health assessments was slower.

In another study, The Role of Life Satisfaction and Depressive Symptoms in All-cause Mortality (2009), there was a sample of 5,131 adults, aged 50 to 91, residing in Taiwan. Over the course of 10 years, 1,815 deaths were recorded. At the same time, increased satisfaction with life made it possible to postpone death, regardless of gender, age, education and health status. Simultaneously, depression increased the risk of sudden death. However, after 78 years, higher satisfaction did not affect mortality so much, since stronger age factors came into play here.

old couple walking in park
It is very important for seniors to feel needed, to continue caring for a partner and to be healthy.

Perhaps the reason is that adults tend to use fewer assimilation strategies (such as behavior modification) and more adaptive strategies (such as lower expectations) as they age. As young adults, they are more willing to make lifestyle changes to reduce the discrepancy between their real and desired selves, including adherence to treatment regimens and behaviors (eg, improving sleep, diet, exercise). In contrast, older adults experience cumulative and irreversible health deficits. They rely more on adaptive strategies, which are psychological adaptations that protect mental well-being rather than the body.

Earlier studies have noted that men have more negative effects than women, and positive well-being is not just about the absence of negative well-being.

Impact of life satisfaction on health

Life satisfaction has a direct impact on health, especially in old age. These are the conclusions reached by the authors of the study “Life Satisfaction and Subsequent Physical, Behavioral, and Psychosocial Health in Older Adults, published in February 2021”.

Data were collected from 12,998 participants over 50 years of age. Overall, higher satisfaction resulted in a positive impact on 21 physical and mental health indicators, including:

  • reduced risk of depression by 46%;
  • reducing the risk of early death by 26%;
  • reducing the risk of physical problems by 25%;
  • reduction of problems with falling asleep and sleeping by 14%;
  • reduction of chronic pain by 12%;
  • increase in physical activity by 8%.

There was also an improvement in such psychological characteristics as optimism, the presence of life goals and a reduction in feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, etc. Data were collected from the participants themselves in over four years.

Study leader Dr. Kim is confident that although life satisfaction is a subjective assessment of the condition based on the most important factors, it can be adjusted. Yes, it is determined by genetics, social factors and changing life circumstances, some of which can be improved both on an individual and national level.

Some patterns, according to Kim, are associated with the conduct of electoral campaigns, which in the United States and some other countries take place every 4 years. Politicians can use these cycles to their advantage and work to improve the people's well-being.

Thus, in general, the well-known principle "people who are satisfied with life exist longer" is confirmed by scientific research. The degree of satisfaction can be increased both with the growth of material well-being, and in conjunction with it or separately. At the same time, depressive behaviors increase the risk of developing not only psychological, but also physical problems and accelerate death. Accordingly, one should strive for a more positive mood and enjoyment of every minute lived.

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