Want to avoid death? Get happy. A new study finds that subjects who reported feeling the most happy were 35% less likely to die than those who reported feeling the least happy, according to USA Today. Interestingly, the researchers didn’t ask participants to recall past feelings of happiness; rather, they asked the 3,853 subjects to rate their feelings at 7am, 7:30am, 7pm, and 7:30pm on one particular day. “In many ways, this is a better approach to understanding how people actually feel than asking them general questions about how happy they are,” says a co-author.
Five years later, they noted how many of the subjects—aged 52-79 initially—had died, while controlling for other factors not related to happiness. Though the results don’t actually prove that happiness leads “directly to better survival,” says the co-author, one professor calls the association the study uncovered “pretty amazing. … If we can get people to be happier, would that extend the lifespan? We don't know that yet.” The study also found that people were generally less happy upon waking, and most happy at 7pm. Click for more on studies that have shown a link between longevity and optimism or even just smiling. (Read more happiness stories.)