They say that having a positive outlook on life and being optimistic in every situation will make your life easier – but it turns out it will help you live longer as well, in some cases much, much longer.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, optimistic women have a longer lifespan and often live past the age of 90. Yes, that’s right – being optimistic may add years to your lifespan.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and showed that there’s a correlation between lifespan and optimism in women.
The previous version of the study found a correlation between optimism and living past the age of 85, but the study was conducted mostly on white people. So, for the new research, the study expanded the pool of participants and included more people from different backgrounds.
The study included 255 participants from the Women’s Health Initiative between the ages of 50 to 79, and they had to fall into that age bracked between 1993 and 1998. They were followed for 26 years, and the researchers claim that the benefits of optimism may hold across diverse groups.
This is what Hayami Koga, a Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Population Health Sciences program with Harvard Chan School said in a press release:
“Although optimism itself may be affected by social structural factors, such as race and ethnicity, our research suggests that the benefits of optimism may hold across diverse groups. A lot of previous work has focused on deficits or risk factors that increase the risks for diseases and premature death. Our findings suggest that there’s value to focusing on positive psychological factors, like optimism, as possible new ways of promoting longevity and healthy aging across diverse groups.”
Koga believes that the findings of the study might change how people approach their health. Maybe there isn’t a way to teach people to be ‘more optimistic’, but if you tell them that it could put years on their life clock – it might change their opinion.
However, the study revealed that many factors contribute to longevity, including diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices.