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Are you a glass-half-full kind of person? If you are, then you’ll love what this article has to say about its impacts on health. If you struggle to look at the brighter side of things, this could be a sign that it’s time for a  change.

According to a clinical investigation that involved a group of women, high levels of optimism can increase the likelihood of exceptional longevity once you’re over 90 years old. Among those who were most optimistic, participants were predicted to have a 5.4% longer lifespan!

These findings have been extensively backed by multiple studies. For example, a 2019 experiment demonstrated that optimism can lead to a life span that’s 11% to 15% longer. It can also give individuals greater odds of achieving exceptional longevity by enabling them to live to the ages of 85 and up.

What’s the Link Between Optimism and Longevity

The exact relationship has yet to be fully understood, but it’s generally believed that optimism leads to:

Better Coping Strategies

Optimists use self-distraction, problem-solving, and social support. They distance themselves from problems to cope with stress. And when these strategies cannot be employed, they resort to acceptance or resignation.

People who look on the brighter side of things have also been known to manage conflict with humor which provides a welcome distraction from difficult situations.

Higher Quality of Life

Optimists cope with stressful situations better than pessimists which positively affects the former’s quality of life. A 2007 study of individuals with epilepsy found that patients who are optimistic had better perceptions of their physical and mental health. They also reported higher quality of life.

This is echoed in multiple studies.

A 2006 research on patients with head, neck, and thyroid cancers found an association between optimism and a higher quality of life in terms of mental and physical well-being. Yet another study showed that optimistic patients who underwent aortic-coronary bypass were able to return to their normal activities faster than others.

Improved Physical Health

If the benefits mentioned above weren’t enough, a positive mindset can also lower your chance of disease!

A study was conducted on 545 males aged 64 to 84 years who didn’t have cardiovascular disease or cancer. It established that the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases was inversely associated with increased levels of optimism!

This is backed by a 2019 review of 15 studies which suggests that optimism can lower your risk of heart disease by 35% and early death by 14%. It could have something to do with how chronically optimistic women had better protection against the progression of carotid atherosclerosis—a buildup of fatty deposits known as plaque which can cause heart disease by blocking arteries.

Lower Risk of Depression

Optimistic tendencies can prevent symptoms and episodes of depression in young people. And while the literature suggests that there might be an inverse relationship between optimism and symptoms of depression, it’s vital to note that age is a relevant factor.

That’s not to say we can’t all benefit from it!

For example, an alarming number of people have suicidal thoughts. Developing optimism may help in this case, as it has been shown to decrease thoughts of suicide according to a 2007 multi-center study on adult college students.

Promotes Healthy Behavior

Based on the meta-analysis of 3 health behaviors, optimism could help promote healthy behaviors that could lead to a better life.

Other studies have also highlighted similar benefits from maintaining a positive attitude. Among Finnish adults, optimism was correlated with better eating habits. They also had a lower number of subjects who were smokers, overweight, and obese.

Additionally, a 2006 study of men and women between 65 to 80 years old found a relationship between optimistic people and moderate alcohol consumption, brisk walking, and—in the case of women—vigorous physical activities.

Resilience To Stress

Stress affects everyone, but optimists deal with it differently. They believe that negative events are isolated occurrences that aren’t likely to keep happening. Since failures are beyond their control, they try to solve the problem and reward their progress instead of whining about them.

And since they have longer, more satisfying relationships, they have a solid support system to rely on when things go sideways. Plus, they don’t have to deal with things on their own so there’s little to no risk of amplified or prolonged stress responses.

Boost Positive Thinking To Set Yourself Up for Success

A study suggests that optimism is a learned behavior. This means you can cultivate positive thinking with simple tried-and-tested strategies such as:

Focusing on the Good

You know what they say, “If you believe in something, it will most likely come true.”

So, when you’re facing challenges, train your mind to look at the brighter side of things. By broadening your perspective and surrounding yourself with people who care about you, it will be easier to adopt a positive attitude. It will take time, patience, and consistency to reorient your frame of mind, but it’s well worth the effort.

Making Downward Comparisons

Downward comparisons, a mechanism that refers to comparing yourself to people who are less fortunate than you, can lift you up. It enhances your self-esteem and confidence over the short term. But try to avoid relying too heavily on it, as it can stunt your progress and make you arrogant and hostile toward those who are doing more poorly.

Practicing Gratitude

There are many ways to express gratitude, but one of the best ways to cultivate a mindset of appreciation is by having a gratitude journal! Writing things down makes them tangible, more concrete, and more believable. It gives you something good to look back on when you’re fraught with challenges, encouraging you to count your blessings instead. When you do that, you’ll find that it enhances your peace of mind while reducing ruminative thinking.

While penning down fresh thoughts—even goals and ideas—make sure you’re being realistic because wishful thinking can make you blind to unintended consequences.

Laughing More Often

Engaging in adaptive forms of humor, whether affiliative (banter done to improve relationships with others) or self-enhancing (laughing at yourself and your unique circumstances), can bring positive psychological outcomes. See what strikes your funny bone, whether it’s playing harmless pranks on your friends, spending time with kids, or watching a comedy flick.

Bottom Line: Turn That Frown Upside Down

Being optimistic is a survival skill. It lowers the risk of many diseases and improves one’s quality of life, both of which contribute to longevity. Let it improve your overall well-being by putting the above-listed strategies into practice. Make sure to pair them with a healthier, active lifestyle, good diet, and 8 hours of quality sleep!