Do positive people really live longer?
According to a study by professors at The International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), people who experience high subjective well-being (SWB) live longer lives and have better health than those who do not. Simply put, people’s emotions and judgments regarding their lives ultimately impact how long they stay around and their quality of life. In fact, people with positive SWB lived nearly eight years longer than those with negative SWB and experienced reduced physical ailments, including cardiovascular disease and depression!
What is SWB? Simple: It’s positivity.
SWB is a combination of various emotions, mainly: life satisfaction, having positive emotions, optimism, and avoiding negative emotions. A number of case studies are referenced within the research, including cases where people were followed around over an extended period (some over 30 years). In each of these studies, participants were evaluated according to their initial SWB assessment, and those people with positivity had better health and have lived longer than their counterparts.
What is the evidence?
A couple of very interesting studies that are cited within the report:
Photographs of professional baseball players taken in 1952 were evaluated, judged, and given a rating. They found that, players who had authentic smiles were more likely to live longer than those who were only partially smiling, or not grinning at all. These ratings predicted the mortality that had occurred by 2009.
Over an average period of 12 years, nearly 88,200 Japanese adults aged 50 to 69 were followed up on after the initial study. The enjoyment of their lives directly related to a decreased risk in cardiovascular disease, stroke, and mortality rate.
Upon admission at a Nurse’s health cohort, 63,469 nurses with an age range of 30 to 55 were followed up on every 2 years for 30 years. The presence of depression directly correlated with increased cardiovascular death.
Total, there are a total of 26 scientific case studies within the research that directly link longevity and positivity. Further, there are 17 case studies that directly link low positivity and the increased rates of illness, including cancer.
How does this happen?
Scientists and doctors attribute these amazing results to two main factors: improved resilience and insightful living. Researchers believe that positive people with a optimistic outlook towards life have an increased will to live, resulting in a proactive mindset about health and prevention. Living a positive lifestyle results in a large decrease in illness and death.
Positivity also results in maturity and insight, allowing people to connect with their spiritual nature and live healthy, long, meaningful lives of simplicity and happiness. People who remember what is important live happier and longer lives.
Research scientists and physicians continue to examine this incredible relationship between positivity and longevity. The evidence clearly points to a direct link between having a positive mindset and outlook on life with health and longevity.
The biggest takeaway from this incredible evidence is simply this:
Remember to live with a positive mindset. Be mindful of what is truly important. We all have negative experiences at times, but let’s win the battle armed with positive thinking and positive action.
Diener, E., Chan, M.Y. (2011). Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(1), pp. 1-43.