There are many reasons why being happy is important and why the pursuit of happiness is not necessarily an egocentric endeavor, but people are often surprised to learn that there really is a direct correlation between happiness and health. And what better way to learn this than via a comedy show! The November 28 show Wait wait…don’t tell me! on National Public Radio, featured the new Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.
“So what does the surgeon general do other than put warning labels on things?” teased host Peter Sagal. “My goal as surgeon general” responded Murthy, “is to help build a culture of prevention in America so that we are a nation that is as good at preventing illness as we are at treating it.” After listing the more obvious things that keep you healthy, like “eating a lot of fruits and vegetables” and “drinking a lot of water,” Dr. Murthy said, “But there’s actually one other thing which I think is really important. This is actually being happy.” Murthy went on to explain why. “Most people think that you need to be healthy in order to happy. But I actually think a lot of times it’s the other way around.”
And, Murthy is spreading his message around the country. In a December 8, 2015 article about Murthy in the Huffington Post, Anna Almendrala writes that Murthy thinks emphasizing happiness is one of the main ways to prevent disease and live a long healthy life. “Happy people live longer,” writes Almendrala, “are less stressed, and have lower levels of inflammation and heart disease.” Murthy went into more detail, writes Almendrala, “about why exactly he thinks happiness — a state of being that’s often dismissed as an unessential emotion — is an essential part of health.” Read the full article here.
It is encouraging to see the US Surgeon General, a public health figure of his stature, speak out about the importance of happiness to our health and to emphasize the importance of social connection. Perhaps Murthy is the just the messenger we need to really take this business of happiness seriously.