Researchers have been trying to answer this question or years.
With the pandemic years, political upheavals, international news and economic worries it’s no wonder you may be finding it hard to keep a positive outlook.
The good news is that a 2022 study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society found that participants with higher levels of optimism are more likely to live longer — to the age of 90 and beyond.
“We defined exceptional longevity as living past the age of 90.”
Study author Hayami Koga, MD and PhD candidate at Harvard T.H. Chan Public School of Health, concluded that women of every ethnicity studied who faced life optimistically were associated with a 5.4% longer lifespan than those who were the least optimistic.
Optimists lead a Healthy Lifestyle (and Vice-Versa)
“One thing we looked at was lifestyle. We followed prior research and designed what we call the lifestyle score. The specific factors we looked at were exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption and BMI (Body Mass Index). We looked at this as a pathway linking optimism to lifestyle, which then goes to a longer life,” Koga says.
Always look on the bright side’
When faced with challenges — inevitable life experiences — optimists tend to look at those issues as learning opportunities.
The Good News – we can learn to be Positive
Koga said that optimism is not determined by birth, and studies show that optimism and psychological well-being can be developed.
“Focus on imagining your best possible future and indulging in that thought. Other things like gratitude and other small interventions can increase levels of optimism, so it is modifiable,” Koga says.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Looking at life positively helps you be more resilient in the face of difficult times, to better manage stress and cope with adversity. You’ll lower the stress hormone cortisol and blood pressure, regulate your heart rate, and even improve your immune systems.
” Try to find humour in the midst of challenges and problems that come your way, and most importantly, learn how to laugh at yourself from time to time,”
Celebrity Betty White who lived to 99, famously described herself as a “cockeyed optimist.” .
She once said, “It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”
Laughter is the best medicine.
Humour can lower the stress hormone cortisol and lessen anxiety and tension while promoting happiness and well-being.
Can a pessimist develop the ability to laugh — especially at themselves? According to the Mayo Clinic, humour can be learned.
“Laughter enhances oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain; positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses,” according to the clinic’s website.
Helping your Positive Mindset:
- Practising daily gratitude.
- Focusing on positive self-talk.
- Maintaining a solid social network.
- Reframing negative thoughts.
- Reconnect with old friends
- Revive a former hobby
- Help others in the community
Koga said that the study’s results could reframe how people view the decisions and outlooks that affect their health — and, in turn, their happiness.
What’s your best tip for remaining positive? Please share it here for others to read.