05 Jul Research says people with a positive outlook live longer. But what if you’re not inherently optimistic? Can you change your outlook on life?
via Harvard Health by Matthew Solan
You know the type: some people manage to remain upbeat even during the most trying times. You probably think “How do they do it?” But a better question to ask is “Can I do it, too?”
Science continues to find that people with an optimistic outlook enjoy healthier and longer lives. A study published Sept. 10, 2019, in the journal PNAS involving more than 70,000 people found that those who rated themselves as having high optimism were more likely to live to age 85 or older compared with less optimistic individuals.
The power of optimism is not just having a sunny disposition, but applying this mindset to make positive change, according to Laura Kubzansky, co-director of the Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Optimism is more goal-oriented,” she says. “Optimistic people generally have the perspective that with the right approach and right action they can solve problems and improve the situation.”
It’s not clear exactly how optimism affects health. Investigators have considered both biological and behavioral mechanisms. For example, optimistic people tend to have lower levels of inflammation and healthier cholesterol levels compared with less optimistic people. But they also are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors like staying active, eating right, not smoking, and not abusing alcohol.
“We still are not sure if this mindset directly impacts biological functioning toward healthier profiles, or if it primarily makes people embrace healthy habits, or if it’s a combination of both,” says Kubzansky.
But this brings up the central question about health and optimism: can you become more optimistic?
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