Though it may be tempting to have a glass-half-empty attitude during difficult times, the benefits of optimism are formidable. According to new research, if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, you’re more likely to live to the age of 85 and beyond.
And anyone can be more optimistic, so don’t stop reading just yet.
Why optimists are likely to live longer
The long-term research, which was published in the journal PNAS, collected data from two cohorts of men and women using epidiomelogical scales and conducting 10-year and 30-year follow ups.
The study’s researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health defined optimism as “a psychological attribute characterized as the general expectation that good things will happen, or the belief that the future will be favorable because one can control important outcomes.”
After extended analyses, the results indicated that optimism is specifically related to an 11-15% increase in lifespan on average, and greater odds of “achieving exceptional longevity.”
Optimism versus pessimism
It’s a little more complicated than just having a positive attitude and waiting for the health benefits.
The researchers are unsure on why a glass-half-full attitude is so beneficial to an individuals health.
However, they speculate that it’s relative to setting positive goals and following overall healthier lifestyles.
They also noted that their study didn’t include statistics on socioeconomic status, health conditions, depression, social integration, and health behaviors (e.g., smoking, diet, and alcohol use).
On the other hand, pessimism is correlated with stress.
BU clinical research psychologist Lewina Lee, who headed the study, told NPR that among among the potentially fatal impacts associated with holding onto stress are increase in heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and liver disease.
Pessimists aren’t doomed
However grim this might seem, pessimists aren’t doomed. Moria Joy Smoski, an associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University said that sometimes patients tell her they’re too old to learn new tricks. This isn’t the case — it’s never too late to look on the bright side.
Stress management techniques such as breathing, meditation, and yoga are scientifically proven to improve overall well-being. Attuning to the needs of mind and body can promote longevity while simultaneously alleviating mental tension and discomfort.
Moreover, surrounding yourself with positive people may help uplift you and provide strong senses of connection and community during overwhelming times.
“There are lots of pathways to health and well-being,” Smoski told Considerable. These pathways are open to optimists and pessimists alike.