Every so often we see new evidence that there's some sort of (at least partial) cosmic justice in the world.
Today the Raleigh News & Observer reports that "hedonistic" happiness can lead to health problems, whereas "altruistic" happiness can offer health benefits. In other words, making yourself feel good at the expense of others by being selfish is bad for you; making yourself feel good by helping others and being selfless is good for you:
A study published this week by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill and UCLA showed that a “hedonic” or self-gratifying type of happiness – the result of a massage or a tasty meal – made cells in the immune system act like they were under stress, a condition that over time could lead to diseases such as cancer or heart attacks.
But happiness stemming from finding purpose in life or helping others – such as volunteering at a soup kitchen – caused the opposite response.
Both types of happiness feel good, said Barb Fredrickson, a psychology professor at UNC-Chapel Hill and the primary author of the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But the two types of well-being have very different effects on the immune system.
I can think of one particular group of people who seem to care only about themselves, and who have spent the past few months making themselves feel good at the expense of others be being outrageously selfish.
They even made themselves happy by denying healthcare benefits to a whole lot of people who really need them. Now we learn that in the process of doing so, this mean, selfish group of people might have increased their own health risks and thus the likelihood that they themselves could need additional healthcare.
How bitterly ironic that the mean, selfish people will have healthcare when they need it, and one of the reasons they might need it is because they were so mean and lacking in compassion as to deny healthcare to others who need it.