Have you ever heard the phrase, "Positive thinking can change your life"? While this might sound like a motivational slogan, there is actually scientific evidence to support it. Studies have found that maintaining a positive outlook on life can lead to a longer and healthier life.
Research has suggested that people who have a positive attitude towards life tend to enjoy better health and a longer lifespan. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that optimistic individuals were more likely to live past the age of 85* than their pessimistic counterparts. The study also found that optimistic people tended to have healthier habits, such as regular exercise, and were less likely to smoke or drink excessively.
* For a bit of context, according to the latest available data from the World Bank, the average life expectancies for men and women in a few select countries are as follows:
Average life expectancy
(as a whole)
Of course, these are averages and individual life expectancies can vary depending on various factors such as genetics, lifestyle, healthcare access, and socioeconomic status.
Another study published in the journal Circulation found that individuals with a positive outlook on life had a lower risk of heart disease. The study followed more than 5,000 adults for over a decade and found that those who reported higher levels of positivity had a lower risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
A positive outlook on life may also reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that individuals who reported higher levels of positive emotions were less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. The study found that individuals with a more positive outlook on life had fewer symptoms of cognitive decline.
Maintaining a positive attitude towards life can also lead to social connections and a sense of purpose, both of which have been linked to longevity. Social connections can provide emotional support, reduce stress, and promote healthy behaviours, all of which can contribute to a longer and healthier life. Having a sense of purpose in life can also help promote mental and emotional well-being, which can translate into better physical health.
Scientists have known for quite a while that people with strong ties to friends and family tend to live long.
However, it is important to note that positive thinking alone is not a panacea for longevity. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep, is crucial for optimal health and longevity. Nevertheless, maintaining a positive outlook on life can complement a healthy lifestyle and may help us live longer and healthier lives.
In summary, by maintaining a positive attitude towards life, we can potentially reduce our risk of chronic illnesses, improve our mental and emotional well-being, and strengthen our social connections and sense of purpose. While positive thinking alone is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, it can be a valuable tool for promoting optimal health and longevity.
This post was based on an article from National Geographic, which you can read here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/article/longevity-positive-thinking-prolong-health