But what if our health in later life is also affected by our happiness when we’re a child? That’s the finding of new research published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Health Psychology. People who have fond memories of childhood and relationships with their parents in particular, tend to have better health, less depression and fewer chronic illnesses as older adults.

“We know that memory plays a huge part in how we make sense of the world — how we organize our past experiences and how we judge how we should act in the future. As a result, there are a lot of different ways that our memories of the past can guide us,” William J. Chopik, PhD said in a news release. Based at Michigan State University, Chopik was a lead author on the study. “We found that good memories seem to have a positive effect on health and well-being, possibly through the ways that they reduce stress or help us maintain healthy choices in life.”

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