Letter from the Editor: Happiness

As medical journalists, we are curious, but we are always mindful of our identities. Our role is to accurately report on the findings of medical professionals, not to dispense medical advice ourselves.

However, I was recently asked about what I've learned at the helm of a medical news website for several years, and my answer may surprise you.

There are two major trends that peer-reviewed studies point to again and again when it comes to our health, and they don't involve hitting the gym 7 days per week. More simply, they are moderation and happiness.

It may seem obvious, but moderation in eating habits, drinking habits, and even exercise habits are, time and time again, linked to beneficial health outcomes.

But what role does happiness play in our health? In many cases, science says that it plays the starring role. From maintaining motivation for physical activity, to contributing to our overall well-being, happiness is implicated.

What is more, studies suggest that happiness boosts heart health, and it could even help us to live longer.

The key to happiness is undoubtedly different for each of us. Curious as to what my editors would say, I put the question, "What makes you happy?" to my team at the Medical News Today office. The answers were all diverse.

Some of the top responses included: listening to music, drinking cider while playing music, sports, making other people happy, clifftop walks, my child, a wood full of bluebells, sunshine, my football team winning the premiership, books, wrapping my head around something complex, swimming in the sea, eating a nice meal, dogs that look like their owners, and successfully haggling at a flea market.

The list goes on and gets even more eccentric, but the point is that we all have our unique stimuli of joy. This month, one of my newest sources of happiness on MNT is our new snapshot articles from Yella Hewings-Martin, Ph.D., our resident scientist.

Having worked for over a decade as a Ph.D. student on the biology of a rare children's disease, then as a research fellow on new treatments for severe burn injuries, she is well placed to answer the scientific questions we are all curious about.

Some of my favorites from this month investigate where tattoo ink travels in the body and what determines hair shape.

As our Science Editor, Yella is also doing deep analyses on recent studies. Her article on the science behind health claims for coffee was right up my alley; coffee and my happiness are positively correlated.

Let us know what makes you happy and what you're curious about. Whether you're here to learn more about your own health on the journey to wellness or you're simply interested in the science, thank you for joining us.

You can catch us on Twitter and Facebook, but in the interest of happiness, ditch the laptop or the smartphone and get out to band practice, the woods, or wherever else your happiness lies.

We'll be right here, after a quick stroll on the beach.