According to a new study, happy people don’t just live happier lives; happy people actually live longer. The study showed that people who reported feeling happy, excited, and content on a typical day increase their chances of living to a ripe old age.
The numbers come from studying optimism and longevity among nearly 70,000 women and 1,400 men. Compared to their least optimistic counterparts, the most optimistic men and women who took part in the study were 50% to 70% more likely to live to over 85. The study took into account other factors like educational background, marital status, friendships, chronic health problems, depression, smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, eating well and getting routine medical care. And came to the conclusion that the more optimistic the person, the more chance he or she had for living longer.
But why do happy people live longer?
Reasons Why Happy People Live Longer
Happy people interact with others. They have an easier time making and keeping friends. We are social creatures and the more we interact with people around us, the happier we feel. So if you want to live longer, you may want to join a club, visit a social center or make some phone calls to the friends you used to have.
Happy people are healthier. Studies show that levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise and fall with emotion. Stress is a killer and wreaks havoc on our bodies. Optimists experience less stress, because they don’t tend to dwell on the negative. When they are faced with challenges, they don’t give up easily. They believe that they can overcome problems and they they bounce back more quickly from problems and setbacks. Happy people are less likely to experience depression, feelings of hopelessness and negativity. These feelings can actually influence your health and lead to disease. Optimists tend to take better care of themselves.
Of course, genetics, education and good nutrition all affect how long you live. While you can’t do much about your genes, you can learn how to be optimistic. One way is to start keeping a gratitude journal. Send ten minutes every night thinking about and writing down the things that you are grateful for. When you feel grateful, you will feel happier. And happy people live longer.