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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2004 September 29; 359(1449): 1383–1394.
PMCID: PMC1693417

Positive health: connecting well-being with biology.


Two key types of well-being, eudaimonic and hedonic, are reviewed. The first addresses ideas of self-development, personal growth and purposeful engagement, while the second is concerned with positive feelings such as happiness and contentment. How well-being varies by age and socio-economic standing is briefly summarized, followed by examination of its biological correlates (neuroendocrine, immune, cardiovascular, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep). Preliminary findings on a sample of ageing women showed that those with higher levels of eudaimonic well-being had lower levels of daily salivary cortisol, pro-inflammatory cytokines, cardiovascular risk, and longer duration REM sleep compared with those showing lower levels of eudaimonic well-being. Hedonic well-being, however, showed minimal linkage to biomarker assessments. Future research directions building on these initial findings are discussed.

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Articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of The Royal Society