Harvard Announces New Happiness Research Center

It's called the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness.

Lee Kum Kee

Members of the Lee Kum Kee family./ Photo provided

On Friday, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health welcomed a unique new research center.

The Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness will focus on the study of happiness, and how it can affect health. The goal of the new program, school representatives say, is to answer some of the questions around how positive mindsets trickle down to tangible health benefits.

To start, its four academic priorities will be developing a “happiness index” that objectively assesses psychological well-being; examining the relationship between happiness and physical wellness; studying the effect of mindfulness-based practices on happiness and, in turn, on general health; and determining the role of mass communication on happiness and health.

The center, made possible by a $21 million gift from the Lee Kum Kee family, will utilize researchers, professors, and students across disciplines to study how happiness can affect medicine, psychology, healthcare, and general well-being.

“Would you rather live a long, happy, and healthy life, or a life that is merely without disease?” Laura Kubzansky, one of the center’s co-directors, said in a statement. “Medical and psychological practice and research have traditionally focused on the diseases and deficits that cause poor health. But there is real value in focusing on the positive side as well—the assets that keep us healthy or help us recover more quickly from disease and injury.”