Optimism May be the Key to a Longer Life

Optimism May be the Key to a Longer Life

Looking at the glass as half full may be the secret to a longer life according to a recent study from researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found. 


The study was based on almost 70,000 women and 1,429 men. Both groups completed optimism assessments, as well as surveys regarding their overall health and health habits, such as diet, smoking, and alcohol use. Women were followed for 10 years, while the men in the study were followed for 30 years. 


According to STAT, this team of researchers found that people who scored higher on an optimism assessment were more likely to live past the age of 85. Higher levels of optimism at the beginning of the study strongly correlated to having advanced degrees and being physically active,  and less likely to have conditions like diabetes or depression. 


“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,” Lewina Lee, clinical research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston and assistant professor of psychiatry at BUSM. “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.”


While it’s not exactly clear how optimism helps people live longer, this team of researchers believes the healthier habits optimistic people tend to engage in are likely contributors to an extended lifespan. 


“Our study contributes to scientific knowledge on health assets that may protect against mortality risk and promote resilient aging. We hope that our findings will inspire further research on interventions to enhance positive health assets that may improve the public’s health with aging,” Dr. Lee concluded.