Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Optimists Live Longer - Really!

On the way to the office this morning, I heard a quick report on the radio about a recent study that had determined that optimists live significantly longer than those for whom the glass is always half-empty. I did not have time to find the actual study to which this morning's news report was alluding, but I did find an article in the MSN Lifestyle archives that reports similar results. You can open the link below to read the entire report. Some of the findings that struck me as particularly significant were the following:

"Most research finds that optimism is associated with longer life, though it certainly does not guarantee it. In a 23-year study done in a small town in Ohio by researchers from Yale and Miami Universities, people over 50 who viewed aging as a positive experience lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those who did not--a big gap. (The researchers controlled for such possible confounding factors as race, gender, state of health, morale, and loneliness.) People got more mileage out of optimism, in fact, than from lowering blood cholesterol levels. And other things being equal, they got more mileage out of their will to live than other psychological factors.

The sunshine factor

Other research has also linked optimism with longevity. Mayo Clinic researchers followed 447 people whose personal traits had been evaluated 30 years earlier. Those classified as optimists had half the risk of early death compared to those classified as pessimistic or "mixed." The optimists had fewer problems as they aged--fewer limitations, less pain, and more energy.

In a study called "Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?" Harvard researcher Dr. Laura Kubzansky found that optimism, as evaluated in the way people explain events in their lives to themselves and others, was protective against heart disease. Other studies have found that optimists tend to recover faster after coronary bypass surgery than pessimists. Dr. Kubzansky and other researchers believe that negative emotions and chronic pessimism should be regarded as risk factors for heart disease."

My life experience tells me that these researchers are right on the money! Related studies have also verified that optimistic people often test out as much "luckier" than those whose negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

No one is more optimistic than a dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fan. "Wait until next year!" was our mantra for 86 years.

I am optimistic that we'll be back in the World Series again this year!


MSN Lifestyle - Mind, Body & Soul - Article

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