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Optimists Live Longer !

Research from a Boston University School of Medicine has found that people with greater optimism are more likely to live 15% longer than pessimists.

Optimism is defined as the “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.”

Research has identified many risk factors that increase the likelihood of diseases and premature death. Much less is known about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging.

This study was based on nearly 70,000 women and 1,500 men who completed a survey to assess their level of optimism as well as their general health and health habits such as diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption. Women were followed for 10 years and men 30 years. When the individuals were compared it was found that the most optimistic men and women lived, on average, 11 to 15% longer and had between 50 and 70% greater odds of reaching 85 years old. The results considered age, demographic factors, chronic disease, health behaviors and depression.

The scientists have suggested that individuals with an optimistic mindset may promote healthy behaviors for example exercise, better diet and a reduction in poor habits like smoking and consuming excess alcohol. It is also thought that they may also handle stress better than pessimists, looking further into the future. It suggests that strong positive psychosocial factors could promote healthy “ageing” which could extend life expectancy. It is not clear how optimism can help people live longer but one possibility is that these people may be better able to regulate emotions and bounce back from stress more easily. There is also a link between health and optimism as those with a positive frame of mind are more likely to have better health habits like taking regular exercise.