The Surprising Link Between Purpose-Driven Joy and Your Immune System

A happy state of mind is known to improve your immunity and overall well-being, but did you know that not all types of happiness are beneficial for the body?

Embracing the wrong kind of happiness can negatively impact your health. A collaborative study by researchers at UCLA’s Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and the University of North Carolina discovered that your state of mind heavily influences the state of your immunity.

Eudaimonic Well-Being vs. Hedonic Well-Being

There are two types of happiness to consider: eudaimonic well-being and hedonic well-being. Eudaimonic well-being is the happiness that comes from having a profound sense of purpose and meaning in life. A high level of eudaimonic well-being results in immune cells in pristine condition, low levels of inflammatory gene expression, and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.

On the other hand, hedonic well-being is focused on self-gratification and a “me-first” attitude. Indulging in this type of happiness can disrupt your immune system, resulting in a poor immune system profile that leaves you prone to high inflammation and low antiviral and antibody gene expression.

The Study

To gain a better understanding of how the two types of well-being impact your health, researchers analyzed blood samples from 80 adults who were assessed for hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, as well as other psychological and behavioral factors.

The study revealed that people who displayed eudaimonic well-being had favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. In contrast, those with hedonic well-being exhibited an adverse gene-expression profile.

Surprisingly, researcher Steven Cole noted that “People with high levels of hedonic well-being didn’t feel any worse than those with high levels of eudaimonic well-being. Both seemed to have the same high levels of positive emotion. However, their genomes were responding very differently even though their emotional states were similarly positive.”

Understanding the Difference

What does this mean for your pursuit of happiness? It suggests that doing good and feeling good have very different effects on the human genome, even if they generate similar levels of positive emotion. It seems that the human genome is much more sensitive to different ways of achieving happiness than our conscious minds.

So, it’s crucial to evaluate the type of happiness you’re experiencing and prioritize eudaimonic well-being to boost your immunity and overall health. Here are some tips to help you develop a deeper sense of purpose and achieve lasting happiness:

  • Engage in activities that align with your values and contribute to the greater good.
  • Cultivate meaningful relationships and connections with others.
  • Pursue personal growth and self-improvement through learning, curiosity, and self-reflection.
  • Develop a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the positive aspects of life.
  • Practice mindfulness and present-moment awareness, which can help you find meaning and purpose in everyday experiences.
  • Set and work towards realistic goals that align with your values and bring a sense of accomplishment and progress.

In Conclusion

While hedonic happiness can provide temporary pleasure and satisfaction, it’s essential to prioritize eudaimonic well-being for long-lasting health benefits. Embracing a sense of purpose and meaning in life not only improves your mental and emotional well-being but also positively impacts your physical health and immunity.

By cultivating a deeper sense of purpose, you empower yourself to live a more fulfilling and healthier life, which in turn benefits those around you. So take the time to reflect on your values and the activities that bring meaning to your life and strive for a more eudaimonic state of happiness.