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This One Trick Can Help You Live 15% Longer, Says Study

It all has to do with your outlook on life.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Extending your life may be as simple as looking at a glass half full versus half empty—at least according to a recent study. Researchers have found a link between optimism and the average life span, and it might inspire you to look on the bright side. Read on to learn about the trick on how you can extend your life—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

The Most Optimistic People On Average Lived 11 to 15 Percent Longer

The study, published in November 2020 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the most optimistic men and women on average lived 11 to 15 percent longer than those more pessimistic in nature. Those who scored highest in the glass-half-full range also had the greatest odds of living to age 85 and up.

"While research has identified many risk factors for diseases and premature death, we know relatively less about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging," corresponding author Lewina Lee, Ph.D., clinical research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston and assistant professor of psychiatry at BUSM, explained in a press release. "This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan. Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies."

It still isn't clear why optimism seems to keep people alive longer. However, it could be that they have more of an emotional grasp on life. "Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behavior as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively," added senior author Laura Kubzansky, Ph.D., MPH, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and co-director, Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

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The Link Between Optimism and Health

Researchers added that optimistic people tend to have healthier habits, such as being more likely to engage in more exercise and less likely to smoke, which could extend lifespan. "Research on the reason why optimism matters so much remains to be done, but the link between optimism and health is becoming more evident," noted senior author Fran Grodstein, ScD, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of medicine at the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. 

So, next time you see that glass, try and remind yourself that it is half full—it could add years to your life. And to stay alive till 85 and beyond, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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