In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that included a racially and ethnically diverse group of 159,255 women, higher levels of optimism were associated with longer life and a greater chance of living beyond age 90 .
The researchers found that the link between optimism and longevity, which they studied in this group for two decades, was evident across all demographics, with lifestyle factors accounting for nearly a quarter of the association between optimism and longevity. Life expectancy.
“Although optimism itself may be shaped by structural social factors, our findings suggest that the benefits of optimism for longevity may hold across racial and ethnic groups,” said lead author Hayami K. Koga, of the TH School. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University.
“Optimism may be an important intervention target for longevity in various groups,” Koga added.
Optimism is a personality characteristic that is partially inherited (between 23 and 32%), scientific studies have shown that it is a feeling that can be achieved with, for example, writing techniques or cognitive and behavioral strategies.
An optimist is defined as a person who, in general, has positive expectations about situations or the future, who hopes that good things will happen. Sometimes negative people think that optimists are “naive” to the reality of life. It is not like this.
The women in the study, ages 50 to 79, who worked on their optimism, or who already were, had an average life expectancy extension of 2.4 years. For Hispanics it was 2 years (although they were less represented in number in the study). For non-Hispanic whites it was 2.5.
This new research somewhat completes the circle of other work, which had already concluded that optimistic people had a lower risk of developing chronic medical conditions—which itself prolongs life—and premature death.
Furthermore, optimists have the ability to react positively to a crisis, while lPessimists are more likely to become stressed over minor events, and they are more likely to have trouble responding to stress when it occurs.
Although much remains to be discovered about the mysteries of optimism, one thing is clear: possessing it as a personality trait can not only help you live longer, but also lead to a better quality of life.
To achieve a good degree of optimism, therapist Tchiki Davis recommends in an article in Psychology Today:
1. Choose your own version of optimism
There is no need to be optimistic all the time in every scenario (this is impossible). Instead, you can try to slowly incorporate new optimistic ideas into your own world view, in a way that feels authentic to you.
2. Start questioning pessimistic thoughts
Sometimes we tell ourselves that our pessimistic thoughts are realistic thoughts. But remember, thoughts are not facts. If you find yourself mired in negativity, try to pause and question your thoughts.
3. Surround yourself with optimists
Being around people who are optimistic can help you learn new tricks and discover how others find the positive even in negative situations. Simply being around an optimist can make us more optimistic. As if optimism was contagious.
4. Don’t force optimism
Becoming more optimistic is like any new habit: it takes motivation and practice. It may feel a bit unnatural at first (like riding a bike or rollerblading). So try it when you feel comfortable, but don’t worry about going too far out of your comfort zone at first. Sometimes it takes a bit of effort but it can be done.