Far from protecting you from disappointment, pessimism will sink your chances of a long, healthy life
Where our American cousins are notorious for their exhausting optimism, Brits tend merely to “expect the worst and hope for the best”. But our stiff-upper-lip mentality could prove as fatal as it is fatalistic. According to the latest science, Instagram-worthy positivity is good for your health.
We have long known optimists live longer than pessimists, but scientists assumed that a positive outlook was just an outcome of good health, not its cause. Now, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have discovered that it works both ways.
Their long-term study of 70,000 older people found that, on average, the most optimistic participants lived 15% longer. Though it’s true that the upbeat individuals were more likely to take active steps to overcome life’s challenges – taking up running if they became overweight, for example – the study showed that optimism alone accounted for a 9% rise in lifespan, regardless of behaviour.
You can take practical steps to break the negative cycle and trick your mind into adopting a brighter outlook. Research conducted by the Harvard Medical School found that daily meditation helps to disconnect brain regions that induce fear and anxiety, while strengthening those connected to empathy and rational thinking.
If mindfully being “in the moment” sounds too ethereal to you, try living in the past. Studies have found that a dose of nostalgia in the morning can improve your levels of optimism throughout the day. Which, to us, sounds like a great excuse to pump up the 1990s playlist and belt out “Things Can Only Get Better” in the shower.
Author: Louee Dessent-Jackson
Source: Men’s Health: Optimists Could Live Up to 15% Longer, New Study Finds