A 2019 study shows that people who are optimistic are more likely live longer than people who tend to have negative attitudes in life. Positive thinkers are more likely to live to be 85 or older. And the good thing is: optimism can be learned.
Live long: this is the study
Lewina Lee and his team at Boston University School of Medicine used two databases in their long life study. Here it received information about the health and lifestyle of almost 70,000 female nurses and 1,500 male veterans.
The researchers also asked the test subjects about their exercise, diet, cigarette and alcohol consumption. On average, the optimistic men and women had a higher life expectancy of 11 to 15 percent. The likelihood of reaching the age of 85 and older was significantly higher – compared to the group of the least optimistic.
“Together with other work, our results suggest that optimism serves as a psychological resource that promotes health and longevity.”
So Prof. Lewina Lee et al.
However, why optimistic people seem to live longer is still up for debate. Healthier behavior and less depression only partially explained the results of the study. But the scientist explains:
“Initial evidence from other studies suggests that more optimistic people tend to have goals and the confidence to achieve them are more effective at solving problems and better regulating their emotions in stressful situations.”
Prof. Lewina Lee (via BBC)
You can learn to be optimistic
The study is accompanied by good news: although optimism is partly genetic, you can learn it too. In a press release from the Boston University School of Medicine, Lewina Lee explains, for example:
“This study has strong public health relevance as it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial good that has the potential to extend human lifespan. Interestingly, optimism can be learned using relatively simple techniques or therapies. “
Prof. Lewina Lee
But how exactly did the researchers define optimism? They described the trait roughly in terms of the general expectation that good things will happen. It also implies that a person believes that the future will be good because they have important events in their hands. Apparently, these qualities can help you live long.
In addition to optimism, you can also increase your life expectancy with five other tips, according to experts.
Source: BBC, study “Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women” (PNAS, 2019), Boston University School of Medicine