Everyone wants to live a healthy, happy and long life. While science has yet to find a true fountain of youth, researchers have found that people who are optimistic are more likely to live longer.
Optimism can lead to longevity
Whereas previous studies have found some risk factors for diseases and premature death, scientists know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote longevity.
A recent study, however, found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to achieve "exceptional longevity," which means to live to age 85 or older. Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that good things will happen, and outcomes will be positive, favorable, and desirable.
About the study
For the study, the researchers surveyed 69,744 women and 1,429 men and compared their initial levels of optimism. Compared to the least optimistic groups, the most optimistic men and women:
—Had an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan
—Had 50 to 70 percent greater odds of reaching 85 years old
The results were maintained after accounting for age, health behaviors and demographic factors such as educational attainment, chronic diseases, and depression.
"This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan. Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies," explained corresponding author Lewina Lee, Ph.D.
Why optimism can bring people longer life
Although it is unclear how exactly optimism helps people attain longer life, "the link between optimism and health is becoming more evident," noted senior author Fran Grodstein, ScD.
According to the researchers, more optimistic people may live longer because:
—They are able to regulate emotions and behavior more effectively.
—They are able to bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively.
—They tend to have healthier habits, such as doing more exercise.
Longevity may seem beyond your control but being optimistic may boost your health and put you on the path to a long life.