Smile, be optimistic and live to 90, according to a new study published Wednesday, June 9 in the Journal of the American Academy of Geriatrics.
According to a new study of nearly 160,000 women of all races and backgrounds, higher levels of optimism are associated with longer lifespans and better chances of centenarians.
Healthy lifestyle factors such as diet quality, physical activity, body mass index (BMI), smoking and alcohol consumption accounted for less than a quarter of the association between longevity and optimism.
“While optimism itself may be influenced by social structural factors, our findings suggest that the longevity benefits of optimism may extend to racial and ethnic groups,” said lead author Hayami Koga, a postdoctoral student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Say.
“Optimism can be an important intervention target for longevity in many groups,” Koga added.
This isn’t the first study to find a strong link between longevity and the bright side of life.
A 2019 study found that the men and women with the highest levels of optimism had an average life expectancy of 11 to 15 percent longer than those who did not think positively.
In fact, the highest-scoring optimists were more likely to live to be 85 or older.
According to the study, the results were the same even after accounting for socioeconomic status, health status, depression, smoking, social participation, poor diet and alcohol consumption.
Optimism doesn’t mean ignoring life’s stressors, experts say. But when negative things happen, optimistic people are less likely to blame themselves and more likely to see obstacles as temporary, or even positive.
Optimists also believe that they can control their own destiny and can create opportunities for good things in the future.
Research shows that optimism can also improve your health. Previous research has found a direct link between optimism and healthier eating and exercise habits, better heart health, a stronger immune system, better lung function, and a lower risk of death, among others.
How to be an optimist
Studies have found that only about 25 percent of our optimism is genetically determined. The rest is up to us and how we react to the lemons in our lives.
If you’re more prone to sourness under stress, don’t worry. It turns out that you can train your brain to be more active.
According to a meta-analysis of existing research, one of the most effective ways to boost optimism is known as the “best me” approach.
In this intervention, you imagine yourself in a future where you have achieved all your life goals and all your problems have been resolved.
Start with 15 minutes writing down the details you’ve done, then spend 5 minutes imagining what reality looks and feels like. Daily practice can significantly improve your positive mood, experts say.
In a 2011 study, students performed 15 minutes of optimal self-practice once a week for eight weeks. Not only did they feel more positive, but that feeling lasted for about six months.
Another way to boost optimism is to keep a journal that only records your positive experiences that day. This focus on positivity can reshape your perspective over time, experts say.
Taking a few minutes a day to write down the things you are grateful for can also improve your outlook on life. Several studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve positive coping skills, disrupt typical negative thinking patterns and replace optimism. Counting blessings even reduced problem behaviors in teens.
Like exercise, regular optimism exercise is needed to maintain a positive outlook for the brain, experts say. But isn’t a longer, happier, more active life worth the effort?
Information from CNN International