Jessica Pettway for TIME

Being Happy Won’t Make You Live Longer

It makes so much intuitive sense that most people don’t question it—if you’re happy, or find ways to make yourself happier, you’ll be better off, both physically and mentally. No surprise either that some studies have also connected happiness to longer life.

But Bette Liu from the University of New South Wales and her colleagues are about to turn this truism on its head. In a study published in the Lancet, the researchers report that happiness doesn’t have much to do with living longer after all.

MORE: Why Chasing Happiness Might Be Making You Miserable

In the study, nearly 720,000 middle-aged women were followed long term to determine which factors were related to their mortality. They rated their happiness as well as answered questions about their health and other lifestyle habits, including whether they smoked, how much education they attained, their relationship status and the amount of stress they felt.

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