Ariana Huffington of Huffington Post fame has written her latest book, Thrive, about long-held beliefs and practices that science now supports. She orients these practices around four pillars: well being, wisdom, wonder, and giving & compassion.
The beliefs and their scientific foundations are as follows:
- Helping others can improve your health: research shows that helping others and having meaning in life, a eudaimonic (as opposed to hedonic) form of happiness, can produce more antibodies to keep the body strong.
- Acupuncture can balance and restore the body: working with qi or chi, the body’s own energy, this technique can relieve migraines, arthritis and chronic pain. Science now proves that acupuncture really works.
- We thrive in communities: the research indicates that people with stronger social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival. These findings hold across age, sex and initial health status!
- Tai chi can improve many health conditions: another modality that works with the body’s own energy, tai chi can alleviate symptoms associated with heart disease, arthritis, breast cancer, and other conditions, according to studies.
- Meditation reduces stress and promotes peace: the research shows an actual biological effect in the body whereby meditation enhances gene expression that improves metabolism and insulin secretion, boosting immunity and reducing inflammation.
- Compassion cultivates a meaningful life: the science on this topic shows compassion can increase empathy and a more meaningful, purposeful, and healthy life.
- Accepting what we can’t change reduces suffering: this holds true especially for the aging, who must relinquish control over some aspects of their life, and adapt to others. Research suggests this ability to let go enhances their happiness.
- Love matters most: a 75-year study concluded that love, and the ability to stay open to loving relationships, is the most important thing in life.
And there we have it: science has caught up to the ancient wisdom of our ancestors.
Source: The Third Metric
Image credit: Victory of the People via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution