Optimism May Be the Secret to a Long and Happy Life

A new study proves that optimistic thinking can increase lifespan.


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We’re often advised to think happy thoughts when times get rough. Well, your auntie may have been right. A new study from Boston University suggests that staying positive has long-lasting benefits. Specifically, the report looked at the role that optimism plays in increasing longevity, and found that there is- in fact- a positive correlation between thinking happy thoughts and living a longer life.

Previous research has already illustrated that optimism can be good for your health.  Such studies have shown that optimists are less likely to suffer from heart conditions and premature death. The newest research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that optimism can also increase your chances of living past the age of 85.

The study, led by Lewina Lee, analyzed data from almost 70,000 women and 1,500 men who had been followed since 1976 and 1961 respectively. The data found that women in the most optimistic group had a 15 percent higher likelihood of living to the age of 85 or above; men in the most optimistic group were 11 percent more likely to live past the age of 85, as compared to those in the least optimistic group.

This research may be a turning point in the way our society and our health professionals think about emotional wellbeing.

“The results suggest that as well as educating and encouraging people to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to maximize longevity we should also be promoting psychological wellbeing and the importance of optimism,” Says Dr. Catherine Hurt, an expert in health psychology. “An optimistic outlook appears to be a key part of a healthy lifestyle.”

While more research needs to be done, this study is certainly an important jumping-off point for health professionals and researchers throughout the world. It encourages each and every one of us to understand- what makes me happy, and how can I stay more positive in the day-to-day?

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