Everyone knows happiness is the best medicine but in a study conducted by Lewina Lee, a clinical research Psychologist, the phrase may actually be true. The key to a longer life may be as simple as having an optimistic outlook on life and the science behind it is very convincing.
Happier Outlook, Longer Life
Lee decided to test a large pool of senior-aged people. The total was 1,400 men and 70,000 women. The study followed them for ten years, and Lee took into account their overall health and factored this into the study. It was interesting, to say the least, to note that 50-70% of men and women with an optimistic mind have lived to 85 or older. 11-15% lived past this age, according to the study.
Lee found that this approach to the problem of an earlier death can be avoided through preventative measures such as meditation, psychotherapy and other emotional measures additional to physical health. She decided to take her studies to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in its August 26th issue and concluded her study in saying that optimism is an important factor after they analyzed data extracted from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Veteran’s Affairs Normative Aging Study. For both of these, there was a separate test. One focusing on men, the other on women. The study tracked the behaviors of the testees and learned that for men and women, the greater the optimism in an individual the longer they lived.
The study’s most poignant discovery was that optimism was a major factor in a person’s psychological wellbeing, which has a grand influence on their physical health. For example, those who have a more optimistic view of life aren’t going to experience as many negative feelings such as depression or hopelessness as their pessimistic counterparts. Emotions that are often linked to early death and disease.