Reprinted from The Daily Telegraph

The pursuit of lasting happiness has long been a subject of interest for scientists and surveys alike.

Scientists found positive moods reduced stress-related hormones and increased immune function. But what makes us really happy and what lasting benefits does happiness have?

Well, earlier this month, scientists from the University of Illinois found the people who are happy and positive about life live longer.

The researchers found “clear and compelling evidence” that happiness is key when it comes to better health and longer lifespans.

Last month a British study, which tracked members of 40,000 households across the country, concluded that eating a family meal at least three times a week is the key to happiness because it helps build a strong bond between parents and their children.

But happiness might be decided when you are born. Names can apparently predict how happy we are as individuals, with researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University claiming in 2009 that people called Judy and Joshua enjoy life the most. Ben, Andrew and Edward were seen as miserable names on the other hand.

Married couples are most likely to be happy with their relationships, according to the study, which also found that the happiest relationships are those less than five years old between two university graduates who have no children.

Research has also suggested that happiness begins at 50. A study from Stony Brook University, New York, found that stress, anger and worry fade after your 50th. Women were also reported to suffer greater stress, worry and sadness at all ages.

Money makes the world go round, but it is not the key to happiness, according to other studies. In 2008, a survey from the Office for National Statistics found that British families were healthier and twice as well off as they were 20 years ago, but are no happier. However, other studies have found money can buy you happiness after all, but only if you spend it wisely. Indeed, that might be why a good holiday can boost your happiness levels “for up to two months” after – although the break has to be “very relaxing” to have such an effect.

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