Positivity leads to longer life
A positive outlook can help you live longer, new research from the Nurses’ Health Study shows. The study asked more than 70 thousand women a series of questions designed to determine their general outlook on life. The average participant was 70 years old. Researchers then followed the participants from 2006 to 2012, tracking death rates.
They found that the women who generally agreed with statements such as, “in uncertain times, I usually expect the best,” tended to live longer. Even after controlling for factors including age, race, education and marital status, the women who were most optimistic were 29 percent less likely to die during the six years of the study. Results included lower risk for conditions such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and infection, even when controlling for depression.
People who are happier tend to have healthier habits. However, those with positive outlooks still had a clear advantage, even when controlling for behaviors such as smoking and exercise.
”It’s also possible that more optimistic people cope better,” study author Eric Kim told NPR. ”When they face life challenges, they create contingency plans, plan for future challenges and accept what can’t be changed.”
While some studies have shown that optimism can be taught, more research is needed to determine whether teaching people to be more optimistic will help improve their health.
How has your outlook affected your health? Do you think happier people live longer, healthier lives? Share your story today.