Science Says Being Optimistic May Help You to Live Longer
Find out why being happy-go-lucky might not be such a bad thing.
If you always look on the bright side of life, there's a good chance you'll live a longer life, too. A new study revealed that people with the highest levels of optimism had an 11 to 15 percent longer life span than those who were generally more pessimistic. Researchers also found that optimistic people had a 50 percent to 70 percent greater chance of reaching 85 years of age compared to the least optimistic groups. The study, which was published by Boston University's School of Medicine, defined exceptional longevity as living to at least 85 years of age.
69,744 women and 1,429 men were surveyed for the study over the course of 10 and 30 years, respectively. Participants were asked to answer questions about their physical and emotional health over the course of the study. The impact of optimism was measured after other factors like smoking, physical activity, diet, BMI, and depression were taken into consideration. Researchers previously found that optimism is 25% heritable, so there's room to grow if you're not quite there yet.
"Optimistic individuals tend to have goals and the confidence to reach them," lead author Lewina Lee, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University's School of Medicine, told CNN. "Those goals could include healthy habits that contribute to a longer life." Highly optimistic people also have a lower chance of of dying prematurely from stroke, heart disease and even cancer.
Researchers say that optimistic people still experience sadness and stress, but that they can generally overcome those emotions quickly and are able to look for the good in every situation. Want to live longer? Studies show that some of the best ways to encourage optimism are keeping a daily gratitude journal and practicing mindfulness.