Holiday Cheer is Good for Your Health

Published Jan 23, 2017 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with holiday cheer and charity making the world a happier place ... even after Christmas.


Did you know that the happiness you feel from giving to others and bettering yourself as well as the community and world is called eudaimonic well-being, and this trait is one you can strive toward on a daily basis? You see, there are two types of happiness a person can experience.  Both rank equally on an emotional level when researchers polled thousands of people, but there is one huge difference between them.  One form of happiness betters our over-all health and well-being. That’s right, happiness effects our health. 

Two types of happiness:

Eudaimonic Well-Being: Giving, passionate, nurturing, intrinsically happy

Hedonic Well-Being: Superficial happiness, consummatory self-gratification

While most people assume that they are eudaimonically happy, the truth is that intrinsic pleasure rains supreme in our society.  That is, until the holidays arrive.  There is something about the season that motivates everyone to do better and be better.  We work toward helping others.  Understand though that there is plenty of money being thrown around, and quite a bit of family arguments taking place as well.  But as a whole, our society is striving for a more peaceful and nurturing existence during the holidays.

Research taken over the last decade has found some pretty fascinating links to just how life-altering it is to be pursuing true joy and happiness over superficial self-gratification. It turns out that eudaimonic happiness shifts the immune cells within the body, essentially changing the genetic makeup of a person for the better. This leads to:

  • Increased Immunities
  • Increased Immune Function
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Lower Heart Rate
  • Healthier Pattern of Heart Rate Variability
  • Less Colds
  • Fewer Illnesses
  • Decreased Risk of Heart Disease
  • Decreased Risk of Chronic Pain
  • Decreased Risk of Stress
  • lowers the risk of death in people with diabetes and AIDS
  • Increased Chance of Overcoming Illness

The research also shows just how happiness affects a community.  A community that practices giving, helping, and supporting one another for the better of the group as a whole will live longer and healthier lives than communities built upon individuals only bettering themselves.  

Those who live a hedonically happy lifestyle are happy – there is no denying that – but when an individual is only happy at ‘surface level’ it has a negative impact on the body (and our culture). During the holidays, these are the people seen as “Scrooges,”  or the ones trying to compete for the title of “Best Gift Giver.”   Neither are productive to the world, but the individual still feels happiness; although it tends to be shorter lived and accompanied by stress or other negative emotions.        

Keeping the Holiday Cheer All Year

Could it be possible to continue the acts of kindness and joy throughout the year?  Many of today’s parents are striving to raise their children in this manner.  Although, most don’t know just how valuable this lifestyle is! Surrounded by flashing lights, batteries, and things, it may be hard for a child to see the worth in looking past themselves and toward our earth and others. The holidays are a great gateway to begin transitioning towards a more eudaimonic well-being.  The key is to know that the journey will be different for each person, and expecting a child to lead without a proper example may be difficult. 

Our culture is in a health crisis – and a hedonic happiness lifestyle crisis – and it is time to start shifting the pendulum… Not only for our health, but for our over-all well-being.

The keys to a truly happier life, as researched by The Harvard School of Public Health, include:

Emotional Vitality: A sense of Enthusiasm, Hopefulness, Engagement

Optimism: The perspective that good things will happen, and that one’s actions account for the good things that occur in life.

Support: Supportive network of family and friends

Proper Self-Regulation:  Choosing healthy behaviors such as physical activity and eating well; and avoiding risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, drinking alcohol to excess, and regular overeating.

·  Researchers have also found that the following 10 habits are scientifically linked to happiness, with acceptance being the number one predictor of reaching true joy.

  • Doing things for others
  • Connecting with people
  • Taking care of your body through exercise and lifestyle choices
  • Noticing the world around you
  • Always learning new things
  • Having goals to look forward to
  • Finding ways to overcome stress
  • Taking a positive approach
  • Being comfortable with who you are

Altruistic emotions are undoubtedly a part of the holiday traditions. Spreading joy and love to everyone around you should not end as a new calendar year begins.  Take the time to self-evaluate and prioritize your level of happiness this season.  You deserve to experience true joy – and your body will thank you. 

About the Author

Elizabeth MacDonald, a creative content writer at My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, a brand that makes recordable stuffed animals, the best pregnancy gift, to record your baby’s ultrasound heartbeat. With wine in hand, Elizabeth tries to find the positives hidden in the messes of parenthood. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, but filling the minutes with memorable moments keeps her smiling.

Elizabeth MacDonald
By Elizabeth MacDonald
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