Positive Emotions Found To Have An Immune Boosting Anti-Inflammatory Effect

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Awe-inspiring experiences, such as viewing works of art or overlooking a scenic vista, may have physical as well as mental health benefits, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found that the positive emotions triggered by these encounters can have an immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory effect that helps protect the body from heart disease, depression, autoimmune conditions, and other chronic illnesses.

The study surveyed more than 200 young adults to rate the intensity of their feelings of amusement, awe, pride, compassion, I contentment, joy, and love on a given day. They also took samples of subjects’ cheek and gum tissue to measure levels of the pro-inflammatory protein cytokine. Those who reported feeling awe, wonder, or amazement had lower levels of cytokine, a marker of good health. “That awe, wonder, and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines,” says study co-author Dacher Keltner, “suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions— taking a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art —have a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”