life: super powers not included

Don’t Worry, Be Happy. It’ll Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease.

Dog in bowlphoto from cute overload
This makes me happy. Very happy.

By now you know that eating healthy foods—think whole grains, fruits, and veggies—exercising, and not smoking can keep your ticker tocking. Well, scientists say there’s another way you can lower your chances of getting heart disease: Be happy.

In a 10-year study of 1,739 men and women, researchers learned that happier folks were less likely to develop heart disease. They measured participants’ joy on a five-point scale and learned that for every point that measured happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, or contentment the risk of heart disease dropped by 22 percent. So unhappy people had a 22 percent higher risk of heart disease or chest pain than people who were somewhat happy. And those so-so people had a 22 percent higher risk for heart disease than moderately happy people.

The researchers say there are a few reasons people who wear rose-colored glasses may avoid heart problems. They may sleep more, have heart-healthy behaviors, have less stress or better handle stress, or they might just be physiologically different than their glum peers.

According to the researchers, people can significantly reduce their risk for heart disease if they do things that make them happy. So that’s the catch. See, making ourselves happier is easier said than done, isn’t it? I mean, when I’m down in the dumps, the last thing I want to do is purposefully make myself happier. (Yeah, that sounds depressing.)

So in case you’re feeling down but fear its ill effects on your heart, I’ve created a list of things that make me happy. You’ll probably have your own happy triggers (list ’em in the comments), but these always cheer me up…

Monkey and Dogphoto from cute overload
Excuse me, sir, but take your paws off my puppy.

Cute animals looking like humans. I can’t seem to visit Cute Overload without laugh-crying. It’s the fact that sometimes animals look so human-like. Plain ’ol adorable baby animals (especially puppies or bears, but never cats) or their adorable mamas also make me so happy. The site kills me every time—in a really good way.

Chocolate cupcakes
photo by sifu renka

Chocolate. See this post. There’s not much else to say but mmm…

Tracey Matt HoneymoonThe Man and his crazy horse that loved to drop and roll in the sand.

Vacation. Especially after this brutal winter, I’m dying for a vacation. I realize coming back to work after a week’s vacation is a little bit of hell on earth what with all the following up and e-mailing and doing all the work you should have done while you were away, but it’s worth it. That photo is from the last big vacation The Man and I took—our honeymoon to Anguilla. Pure ahhhh.

LOST Posterphoto from darkchacal
I love you, creepy not John Locke smoke monster man.

Lost. I’m sorry, but total strangers landing on a twisted, time-traveling island that may or may not be an allegory for good and evil? So happy.

Stretching Exercisephoto by rance costa

Exercise. Hear me out. I won’t lie and say I am happy to exercise. Heck no. But I’m happy how I feel after exercising. Totally different thing. The difference strength training makes to my knee pain makes me very happy. And being able to bike for a half hour makes me smile in a proud sort of way.

Three womenphoto by kmikaze

Friends. The best way to get happy is to find some pals to laugh with, share stories with, and talk about absolutely nothing with.

I could go on. The more I think about it, there are lots of things that make me happy. But I’ll pass it on to you now.

What makes you happy? How do you cheer yourself up when you’re feeling down?

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16 comments

1 Tricia { 02.24.10 at 10:20 am }

My son makes me happy. No matter how bad my day is he has the ability to cheer me up. :)

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2 Estela @ Weekly Bite { 02.24.10 at 10:45 am }

Exercise definitely makes me feel better… and of course my baby girl! She can be screaming and still make me happy :)

Also, when I’m feeling down, I try to refocus and get myself together. Knowing that I’m taking control again makes me happy :)

Oh, and Spring/Summer would make me insanely happy right now ;)

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Tracey Reply:

Estella, Spring would make me very happy, too. Or just a week without a forecast for snow.

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3 Kelly { 02.24.10 at 11:35 am }

Cute picture of you and the man on the horses!! What makes me happy is SUNSHINE! I just can not be in a bad mood when it is gorgeous outside!

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Tracey Reply:

Kelly, I second the sunshine!

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4 Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com { 02.24.10 at 11:55 am }

Tracey!! The photos in this post are killing me! So amazing! Why do baby animals make my heart melt? And putting animals inside bowls and teacups gets me every damn time! Oh and don’t even show me a picture of a cupcake…that’s best of all. Even better would be if the cupcake had glitter and sequins. Oh boy.

I love this post! You bring up such an important point. It’s so easy to think about health in terms of the food and exercise, but truly the happiness and stress levels matter most. I try and incorporate what I love into every day of my life. Seems like you do too!

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Tracey Reply:

Andrea, I almost can’t look at my blog today because I’m so overwhelmed by that puppy’s cuteness. It’s insanely adorable!

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5 Nicole, RD { 02.24.10 at 12:07 pm }

Such a cute picture!!! I love my dog so much — she brightens my day everyday! She’s always so excited to see me, as if it’d been a year since we saw one another! And the sun makes me happy, and sleep makes me happy…and healthy eating makes me happy. I’m a happy girl :)

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6 Struggler { 02.24.10 at 12:22 pm }

This makes so much sense; mood, happiness, attitude.
I’ll take your entire list, thanks very much, but a cuddle with hubby never fails to cheer me either. :)

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7 Ameena { 02.24.10 at 12:47 pm }

What a beautiful honeymoon picture! Talk about a dream vacation – riding horses on the beach!!

I agree that exercise and chocolate are some of the best pick me ups ever. I also love going to the library and getting new books.

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8 Yum Yucky { 02.24.10 at 1:37 pm }

Nothing is better than a good ‘ole hearty laugh. I ask my kids to do early-1990’s hip-hop dance moves, and it cracks me up every time.

Oh wait. Cake makes me happy too. VERY happy. but I don’t eat extra when I sad. food can’t trick me like that.

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Tracey Reply:

In case you were all wondering, another happiness study came out today. It says that happier people are more likely to try new things. Check it out here.

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9 Stef { 02.24.10 at 6:03 pm }

haha that puppy IS cute overload! my pup makes me happy too. tihs was a great post, i agree! how can it be heart healthy to be fuming all the time?

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10 Diane Fit to the Finish { 02.24.10 at 11:12 pm }

There are so many things that make me happy, which I guess is good for my health! My kids when they come downstairs in the morning, my morning cup of coffee or tea, and just sitting on the porch in the sun!

Great picture of you on the horse!

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11 Wren { 02.25.10 at 1:34 am }

What makes me happy? That first cup o’joe early in the morning; the sound of rain pattering on the roof; my old cat (he’s my best bud); my grown-up daughter’s smile and laughter (she’s always done it for me). Lots of other things, but those top the list. :o )

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12 Jess (Fit Chick in the City) { 02.25.10 at 7:06 am }

I agree with Wren, the first cup of coffee of the day. The first sunny warm day of spring or the first snow fall of winter. My number one thing would be the perfect snowy run.

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