If you want to increase longevity, research suggests optimism could be the cheat code. A new study finds that people who are optimistic and have a cheerful outlook on life are more likely to live about 10% longer–making it to the age of 85!
Genetics play a part in how long a person will live, but how you live your life and take care of it will play a bigger role. Even for people that find it hard to maintain a cheery outlook, with practice, you can enhance its role in your life.
Positivity training also reduces depression, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. This might be one of the biggest reasons people are pushing for a happy cure-all!
The New Study
This new study we’re talking about started with researchers from Boston University School of Medicine; Lee (and colleagues) tracked optimism levels and overall health and health habits in 69,744 women and 1,429 men with questionnaires. They followed up with the women for 10 years, and the men for 30 years. Then the researchers looked to see whether higher optimism levels were linked to living longer. The analysis also took into consideration behaviors that would likely impact longevity such as smoking, diet, and exercise routines.
The outcome came out to be that the most optimistic men and women displayed an average of about 15% longer lifespan, and had 50-70% greater odds of reaching 85 years old and older.
People who are more optimistic are more likely to stick to a goal, such as their diet and exercise routines. These people are also inclined to recover from stress quicker, and seek healthier alternatives than those who are not optimistic. They are less likely to smoke or drink alcohol, which can hinder a person’s lifespan and longevity.
Most of the population studied were white and of higher socioeconomic class, and these two factors are tied to higher optimism levels in general. But the authors stick by the fact that the study’s purpose was to show a way to live longer. Lee adds, “Our study contributes to scientific knowledge on health assets that may protect against mortality risk and promote resilient aging. We hope that our findings will inspire further research on interventions to enhance positive health assets that may improve the public’s health with aging.”
How Can You Boost Positivity?
Clinical health psychologist Natalie Dattilo, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says even if it doesn’t come naturally, optimism can be taught. Dattilo works mostly with adults who struggle with depression and anxiety — “a lot of folks who worry,” she says. Many are pessimistic and “tend to see things through a half-empty glass and typically expect negative outcomes.”
There are some simple ways that you can boost optimism in your life. You can take on exercising, since working out releases feel-good endorphins to your brain, or you can meditate. There are numerous ways to become a more positive person. Writing exercises can help, and if you want more professional help, then look into cognitive behavioral therapy. Some other techniques to consider are:
- Get over the past and accept your imperfections
- Be thankful for the small things
- Stop complaining, it gets you nowhere and just causes negativity
- Remember there will always be ups and downs, even in a positive person’s life
- Use positive affirmations
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Reminisce- thinking about happy times can boost your mood for the future.
Life is already hard enough to try and survive through. Do not let the half-full glass become half-empty. Instead, seek ways to become a more positive person, smile more, and do things that make you a better person and healthier. After all, studies suggest that becoming more optimistic is the key to a longer life!