Sense of Purpose Strengthens Immune System
This fits in nicely with other themes on PandaWhale:
They have found a strong link between living one’s life with a sense of purpose and enjoying a robust immune system. However, shallower forms of happiness such as “simple self-gratification” produce the opposite result, weakening the body’s immune response.
A new study finds these two basic types of happiness—“eudaimonic” and “hedonic”—produce internal changes that are in “stark contrast at the level of molecular physiology.” It has just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A helpful conclusion:
The researchers are quick to note that the two types of happiness often share common sources (such as strong social connections) and can reinforce one another. However, “for people in whom one form of well-being outweighs the other, striving predominantly toward meaning may have more favorable effects on health than striving predominantly toward (personal happiness),” they conclude.
They add that these results imply “the potential for an objective approach to moral philosophy rooted in the utility of health, and the basic biology of human nature.” We may feel terrific when our own immediate needs are met. But our genes seem to be telling us that optimal health requires something more: a genuine sense of meaning.