Being an optimist may help people live past 85

(Jacquelyn Corley/ Scientific American) — Humans have been searching for centuries for the secret to living longer, but the answer may be as simple as maintaining a positive state of mind. A new study published Monday by researchers at Boston University adds to the evidence that optimistic men and women may live longer than those who are pessimistic.

Researchers found that people who scored higher on an optimism assessment were more likely to live past the age of 85. Those with higher optimism levels at the start of the study were more likely to have advanced degrees and be physically active, and less likely to have health conditions like diabetes or depression. However, when researchers accounted for these variables, they still found that optimism was associated with people living significantly longer.

Often, researchers focus on finding risk factors the heighten the likelihood of falling ill. But Lewina Lee, the lead researcher on the new study and an assistant professor of psychiatry at BU School of Medicine, said, “These findings reinforce the value of looking at psychosocial assets and not just deficits in overall health and health outcomes.” (…)

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