How Positive Thinking Can Help You Live Longer

Add Years to Your Life

A senior couple drinking coffee together.
A senior couple drinking coffee together. AZarubaika/Getty Images

There are many benefits of positive thinking, including stress reduction, improved immunity and and a lower risk for heart disease. But did you know that positive thinking can actually make you live longer? Here's what research shows about positive thinking and aging, and what you can do to reap the rewards.

Add Years to Your Life

Research shows that how you perceive aging affects how long you will live.

In a study of 660 people, those with more positive perceptions of their own aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer. This effect remained after other factors such as age, gender, income, loneliness and health status were controlled.

Look Forward to Aging

Research on the topic has found that people who look forward to aging while they are young, rather than dreading growing old, have a greater chance of living longer. That's because adjusting your perception of aging while you're still young improve your positive outlook and can have a tremendous effect on your life expectancy.

Improve Resiliency

No one knows for sure why a positive attitude seems to lead to a longer life. Researchers believe that positive thinking about aging can increase a person's will to live, making him or her more resilient to illness and more proactive about health. Another explanation is that mental stress of aging is lower for people who have a positive attitude.

Positive thinking and stress reduction have also been linked.

Find Insight as You Age

What's so great about aging? Good question. Our society prizes youth and beauty above all. Messages about aging tend to emphasize the negative aspects. But, like fine wine, people should get better as they age. Experience, combined with maturity, gives older people great insight.

Older people are more in touch with spirituality and prioritize depth in their life. By following a simple, healthy lifestyle you can preserve your health and energy your whole life.

Other Healthy Markers of Aging

In addition to positive thinking, there are some other markers of healthy aging that can add years to your life:

  • Low blood pressure: 4 years
  • Low cholesterol readings: 4 years
  • Healthy weight: 1 to 3 years
  • Not smoking: 14 years
  • Regular exercise: 1 to 3 years

While these numbers account for mortality and do not consider quality of life, it's safe to say that being in good health can boost your longevity. Be sure to check out these resources for more information about healthy aging:

10 Longevity Resolutions You'll Actually Enjoy​

10 Things You Should Do in Your 50s to Boost Your Longevity​

Top 10 Fun Ways to Live Longer​

Source:

Levy BR, et al. Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2002 Aug; 83(2):261-70.

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