Does Optimism Lead To A Longer Lifespan?

There is good news for those who live life always seeing the glass as half full. Researchers from the Boston School of Medicine have revealed that those who are more optimistic tend to live beyond age 85 more often than their pessimistic counterparts.

Based on previous studies, the research team was aware of optimistic individuals having reduced risks of depression, heart issues and some chronic illnesses. The team decided to take the study to the next step and study the effect of optimism on longevity.

“We wanted to consider, in the current issue, benefits of psychological resources like optimism as possible new targets for promoting healthy aging” – Lewina Lee, Clinical Research Psychologist, Boston University

The study was based on more than 70,000 male and female subjects over a period of 30 years. The subjects were 90% female and the length of the study was 30 years for the men while only 10 years for the women. The study was a rousing success and demonstrated that the most optimistic men and women lived anywhere from 11-15% longer on average and had far greater odds of living past 85 years of age.

Researchers are clear in that they do not yet have an clear answer as to HOW optimism affects longevity. The prevailing thought is that more optimistic individuals may be more likely to have healthy habits such as proper diets, regular exercise, no smoking, etc.

Another thought was that optimistic people are just better at managing stress which is a known contributor to numerous health issues including stress, anxiety and heart problems.

The full results of the study were publish in a recent issue of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.