Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Researchers conducted two experiments designed to measure the affect positive emotions, such as amusement, awe, compassion, contentment, joy, love, and pride, have on the cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker for inflammation. More than 200 young adults participated in the experiments, mostly self-reporting their emotions on a given day. Afterward, researchers took samples of their gum and cheek tissue to measure levels of IL-6.
The results supported researchers’ hypothesis: Positive emotions are associated with lower levels of IL-6. What’s more is awe in particular was the strongest predictor for low levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, even when samples were controlled for relevant personality and health variables.
"That awe, wonder, and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions — a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy," Dacher Keltner, co-author of the study and psychologist at the University of California-Berkeley, said in a press release.