People who take an optimistic view of life have all sorts of advantages, such as living longer. Researchers have now clearly demonstrated this.
Optimists live longer than pessimists. People with a positive attitude towards life are more likely to live to be 85 or older, according to a study by us researchers.
Many factors may play a role. The scientists recommend training courses to promote optimism.
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Optimist or pessimist, who lives longer?
So far, research on the subject has been contradictory. Pessimists are thought to be more concerned about their health, while optimists are less likely to suffer from certain diseases, such as depression or cardiovascular disease.
A new study suggests that optimists do tend to live longer. The findings are in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences.
The team around Lewina Lee from Boston University School of Medicine used two databases in which the medical history of certain occupational groups has been stored for decades. The researchers were able to obtain information on the health and lifestyle of almost 70,000 nurses and 1429 veterans.
Questionnaires and tests were also used to determine whether all of them were optimistic or pessimistic. The researchers divided the women into four groups – from very optimistic to very pessimistic. In the case of men, there were five groups.
Result: On average, the women in the particularly optimistic group lived 15 percent longer than those in the most pessimistic group. The researchers analyzed women with similar demographic characteristics and previous illnesses. For optimistic men, the difference in a lifetime was eleven percent.
A healthy lifestyle
The scientists also wanted to find out whether the longer life expectancy could be due to optimists living healthier lives, for example going to the doctor more regularly, smoking or drinking less and exercising more.
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If the scientists took such differences in lifestyle into account, the result weakened, but the optimists still had a clear advantage. They lived longer even with similar lifestyles.
The researchers, therefore, assume that optimists have even more life advantages: “Other studies suggest that optimistic people can better regulate their emotions and behavior.
And they recover better from stress situations and difficulties,” said co-author Laura Kubzansky in a Boston University School of Medicine press release. Optimists may also be better socially integrated, which could also affect life expectancy.
The study has public health implications. Because it suggests that optimism is one of the psychological factors that can extend a person’s life span.
Positive goals and mindsets
Interestingly, the degree of optimism can be influenced. There are quite simple methods and therapies for this,” says first author Lewina Lee in the communication.
The researchers write in the study that, theoretically, it is also possible to reverse the argument that very sick people are more pessimistic and that they die earlier.
But they had left out those people who had died soon after the start of the study. Even if they omitted people who had chronic diseases at the beginning of the study, the results remained unchanged.
The researchers defined optimists as:
- People who believe that good things happen;
- Who believes the future is worth fighting for.
Because if you have clear goals, the future will be more promising.
According to Ralph Schliewenz from the Professional Association of German Psychologists, this self-efficacy is an important aspect: “Optimists feel that they have things under control. And one can also learn this feeling.
One can set oneself attainable goals. Estimate your own possibilities, take small steps, stay realistic. That is a way of optimism.