Did you know that several studies have linked optimism to a longer lifespan? For instance, a 2019 study linked higher levels of optimism to an 11–15% increase in lifespan and stronger odds of living to age 85 or older for both men and women. Additionally, research out of Harvard has also associated optimism with reduced risk of premature death and chronic disease. Most recently, a study found that optimism increased lifespan and likelihood of living to 90 or older for women – despite ethnic and racial differences.
What’s the good news?
The good news is that research suggests that optimism is malleable – meaning that you can cultivate an optimistic mindset. Here are 3 hacks to nourish your optimism:
1) Practice positive reframing:
Positive reframing is a psychological tool to see otherwise negative events in a positive light. This can mean identifying positives that came out of the negative situation, or acknowledging a lesson that was learned from the situation.
2) Practice gratitude:
Gratitude journaling has been linked to improved feelings of optimism. Start by keeping a daily list of the things you are thankful for. By calling out and noting the good in everyday life – those nice moments, positive interactions and pleasant encounters – you’ll be able to start shifting your focus from the negative to the positive. That doesn’t mean that the tough stuff of life won’t still be there, but over time, both sides of the coin will be more evenly weighted. For more ways to enhance feelings of gratitude, read Grow Your Gratitude.
3) Surround yourself with optimistic people:
Pessimism can be contagious, and so can optimism! So, you might want to limit the time you spend around those who are less optimistic and emphasize growing your circle of those who are more optimistic.
Why does optimism impact longevity?
The impact of optimism on longevity is likely because optimistic individuals have a better capacity to regulate emotions and behavior, which might lead to greater resilience to stressors and improved health outcomes.
To reap the benefits, use these three tools to grow your optimism!