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Optimists Live Longer Than Pessimists: What Science Has to Say

Optimists Live Longer Than Pessimists: What Science Has to Say

There’s a common belief that optimists live longer than pessimists. And surprisingly, there is actually some science that backs up this claim.

Studies have found that people who are more optimistic tended to actually live longer compared to pessimists. But why exactly is this the case? Is this the secret to having a longer life? Read on to find out more.

Do Optimists Live Longer Than Pessimists?

Throughout human existence, we’ve always strived for a way to extend our lifespans. Ancient alchemists attempted to figure out the “elixir of immortality” and people were constantly figuring out ways of how to live longer.

In fact, this is still partly one of the goals of modern medicine. Medicine strives to cure diseases and make people healthier, so they can have long and fulfilling lives.

Recently, scientists have clued in on one possible way to have a longer life. The secret? You just have to be more optimistic.

When it comes to a person’s lifespan, it’s not just physical health that counts. A person’s mental health also plays a big role as to whether or not they will have a long life. In fact, one study found that people who have good relationships with people around them tend to live longer1.

According to the researchers who conducted the study, people who have higher quality relationships tend to have lower levels of stress. This can then contribute to having a longer lifespan.

With regard to optimism, a similar result arises. A study conducted on the relationship between lifespan and optimism found that when adjusting for other factors, optimists had a 14.9% longer life span2.

This means that simply by being more optimistic, a person can live longer. Of course, there are other factors to consider, such as a person’s health. But the fact that having a more positive outlook on life can give you longevity means that it’s something that people should try.

Though, this doesn’t necessarily mean that pessimists live shorter lives. It’s just that optimists tend to live longer lives.

How Do You Become More Optimistic?

Now that we’ve established that optimists live longer than pessimists, how exactly do you become more optimistic? Here are some ways to go about it:

Focus on the positive things in your life

It’s very easy to get caught up in a negative mindset, especially for people who always think about problems all the time3. To think more positively, it’s a good idea to instead focus on the good things happening in life.

For example, you might have done a good job at work recently, or you’ve accomplished something you’ve always wanted to do. Even small things like remembering that you watched a good movie, or that you cooked a delicious dish, can help you be more optimistic.

Avoid negative self-talk

Sometimes, in order to manage your expectations about something, or to avoid disappointment, people tend to think negatively. For example, if they’re asking for a raise or a promotion, they might tell themselves to be ready for rejection so that they don’t get too disappointed if they don’t get it.

However, the problem with this mindset is that it spirals quickly into negative thoughts. Avoiding negative self-talk and instead focusing on positive thoughts can help you become more optimistic4.

Visualize positive imagery

Lastly, simply visualizing positive things can have an impact on your mental health. If you feel tired or stressed out, thinking of happy memories, or anything positive can help you have a better outlook on life.

Doing this every day can help you train your mind to focus on more positive thoughts.

Learn more about a Healthy Mind here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  1. Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review, https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316, Accessed January 5, 2022
  2. Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2
    epidemiologic cohorts of men and women, https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/116/37/18357.full.pdf, Accessed January 5, 2022
  3. Tapping the Power of Optimism | Michigan Medicine, https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/abl0330, Accessed January 5, 2022
  4. Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950, Accessed January 5, 2022
  5. Become more optimistic by imagining a best possible self: effects of a two week intervention – PubMed, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21450262/, Accessed January 5, 2022
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 3 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza