Is Happiness as Good for Your Health as Studies Suggest?

A review of recent studies, as well as an article pushing back

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Angsty teens should quit their sassing and put on a happy face. Teenagers that have happy outlooks during their high-school years report better health when they grow up, finds a Northwestern University study. This might have something to do with the correlation between angst and badassery, as the study notes the positive teens had a reduced risk of engaging in smoking, binge drinking, using drugs and eating unhealthy foods.

This isn't the first time that happiness has been linked to a better life. People like to reassure you that success doesn't lead to happiness, but they never mention how happiness affects success: "chronically happy people are in general more successful across many life domains than less happy people and their happiness is in large part a consequence of their positive emotions rather than vice versa," found a study published by the American Psychological Association.

Furthermore, positive psychologist, Martin Seligman argues in Learned Optimism: How to Change your Mind and Your Life that a positive outlook can make your more successful and even cure terminal illnesses.

But is happiness really the key to having it all, especially for youth? Psychologist Lori Gottlieb in a recent Atlantic story argues the exact opposite--that the happiness her patients experienced as children only led to psychological problems for them as adults. "Sitting on my couch were other adults in their 20s or early 30s who reported that they, too, suffered from depression and anxiety, had difficulty choosing or committing to a satisfying career path, struggled with relationships, and just generally felt a sense of emptiness or lack of purpose--yet they had little to quibble with about Mom or Dad." And later in the piece she talks about how happiness makes you a narcissist.

So you don't have to feel too guilty for your cynicism as a teen--and you probably had more fun than those happy goody-two-shoes anyway.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.