In survey research which followed 69,744 women and 1,429 men over 10-30 years, researchers discovered that “individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve ‘exceptional longevity,’ that is, living to age 85 or older.” This result held true even after accounting for chronic illnesses, health behaviors, depression, and age. How might optimism affect longevity? The authors of the study explain that, “Optimistic individuals tend to have goals and the confidence to reach them; thus, optimism may foster health-promoting habits and bolster resistance of unhealthy impulses through greater engagement with one’s goals, more efficacious problem-solving, and adjustment of goals when they become unattainable.” These results are in line with previous studies that have shown that optimism reduces the risk of premature death in both mid-life and later life.

YOUR TURN

  • Have the most optimistic people in your life had the most health success? Is being an optimist something you’re born as or learned? What tips would you have to help people be more optimistic when things are bad?