(Flu vaccines were used as a proxy for pathogens because the body’s response is similar for the purposes of the study.)
Not everybody has fun flu fighting
In the first experiment, Two groups of women were given flu vaccines. The high self-discrepant group – women who were displeased with themselves and their progress toward goals – produced fewer antibodies in response to the vaccine than a second group of women who were satisfied with their lives and goal progress. The levels stayed low for more than a month post-vaccination.
In a second experiment high self-discrepant women were asked to write – one group wrote about goal-related concerns, a second wrote about daily activities. The first group reported fewer flu symptoms and showed higher antibody levels.
Happiness life strategy
To have a strong immune system it helps to be on track with our life goals, or at least to be at peace with our progress.
But if we can’t, there’s still hope for fighting the flu.
By getting our disappointments out of our head and onto the page, we can be more rational in examining our expectations, more clearheaded in questioning our approaches and more constructive in coming up with alternative ideas.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, maybe we should eat it while writing.