It’s never been more important to be happy: According to new research, you might end up living longer.

A recent study, as USA Today reports, found that people who reported feeling happiest had a 35 percent reduced risk of dying compared with those who reported feeling least happy.

The researchers asked 3,853 participants, ages 52 to 79, to rate their feelings at different times on one particular day and then again five years later. The researchers recorded the number of participants who died. Factors such as age, gender, health, wealth, education and marital status were controlled.

Study co-author Andrew Steptoe said the approach of the study “gets closer to measuring how people actually feel.”

“It’s perfectly true that someone’s happiness over a single day will be affected by what happens to them over that period,” Steptoe said. “However, survey experts and psychologists have come to the view that in many ways, this is a better approach to understanding how people actually feel than asking them general questions about how happy they are. Responses to general questions are influenced strongly by personality, by what people think they ‘ought’ to say and by recollections that might not be quite accurate.”

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Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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