Want to live forever? Or at least for a VERY long time? New studies done by the Boston University School of Medicine clinical research psychologist Lewina Lee, show that optimism may be the trick to achieving this well sought after goal. A large scale study indicates that those with a positive outlook on life live as much as 10% longer, making it well past the age of 85.
“This study suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan,” -Lewina Lee.
Researchers have shown that some factors beyond health like having strong social relationships are important too.
Recent research also suggests that optimism may impact facets of aging-related health like the risk of having a heart attack. And researchers have established a link between optimism and a reduced risk of premature death.
In the new study, Lee and colleagues tracked optimism levels and mortality status in nearly 70,000 women and 1,500 men with questionnaires. They followed up with the women for 10 years and the men for 30. Then the researchers looked to see whether higher optimism levels were linked to longer lifespans.
Women in the study with the highest levels of optimism had nearly 9 percent longer lifespans than women with the lowest optimism levels. Men benefited similarly, the team reports Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Guys with the highest optimism levels lived about 10 percent longer than those with the lowest levels.
They also suggest that optimistic people might be better at setting and sticking to goals, or adjusting them as needed instead of giving up. This could include health-related behaviors like dieting or giving up smoking, and could impact their health in the long-term.
If you feel a deficit of positivity in your life, the researchers note other studies have shown simple things like writing exercises and meditation have been shown to help boost optimism in the short-term. More intense things like cognitive behavioral therapy are another option.