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Why Optimists Live Longer Than You


Optimism is linked to better health outcomes, including well-being, sleep quality, lower stress levels, better cardiovascular health, and improved immune function. A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that optimism is also associated with living a longer life. Researchers followed the lifespan of 160,000 women aged 50-79 for 26 years, and those who scored highest in optimism were more likely to live longer, including into their nineties, compared to those who were pessimistic. The findings held true even after accounting for other factors known to predict a long life, such as education level, economic status, ethnicity, depression, and other chronic health conditions. While the study only focused on women, a previous study including both men and women found similar results.

While optimism is linked to healthier lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, and not smoking, the latest study found that lifestyle only accounted for 24% of the link between optimism and longevity. The way optimists manage stress, using adaptive coping strategies, is also thought to be a factor in why they live longer. When faced with a stressful situation, optimists deal with it head-on and use problem-solving techniques to resolve the source of the stress or view the situation in a less stressful way.

Optimism is viewed as a relatively stable personality trait, but it can be cultivated over time. Simple exercises, such as visualizing and writing about a "best possible self," and thinking positively about future events, can increase optimism temporarily. It is also important to have an accurate view of what you can and cannot control to temper expectations for success. For those who are not naturally optimistic, living a healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and getting a good night's sleep can increase their chances of longevity. Cultivating a more optimistic mindset may also help.

Here are some key points:

  • Optimists enjoy higher levels of well-being and better health.

  • Optimists are more likely to live into their nineties.

  • Optimism is linked to healthy lifestyles, such as eating a healthy diet and staying physically active.

  • Optimists manage stress in healthy ways, reducing feelings of stress.

  • Optimism is a stable personality trait, determined by genetic and early-childhood influences.

  • Optimism can be cultivated with simple exercises, such as visualizing a positive future.

  • Goals need to be positive and reasonable to effectively increase optimism.

  • Regularly envisioning positive outcomes can help develop an optimistic mindset.

  • A healthy lifestyle, managing stress, and cultivating optimism can increase chances for a long life.

How does this fit in the Hierarchy of Agency?

FINDING MEANING! Having an optimistic and positive mindset is achieved through creating options, embracing struggles, and finding love! Let’s not forget that being more optimistic helps us live longer.

Learn more about the Hierarchy of Agency


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