Are these traits the keys to living longer?
The results were determined by studying nine villages in southern Italy, remote areas with residents well into old age. Researchers chose 29 people between the ages of 90 and 101. Despite the participants understandably not being in top physical health, researchers used interviews to determine the participants’ well-being was better than their younger family members.
The traits associated with this better mental health were:
- Being positive (resilience and optimism)
- Being hard-working
- Having a family and religious bond
- Feeling a need for control
- Having a love of the land
“Exceptional longevity was characterized by a balance between acceptance of and grit to overcome adversities along with a positive attitude and close ties to family, religion and land, providing purpose in life,” the researchers wrote.
“I’ve taken care of a countless number of people who would fit this mold. There is no doubt that those who have an extremely positive outlook on life and who also tend to live with a ‘mission focus’ — in that they do not live for themselves, but for the betterment of others — tend to be happier and healthier,” he says. “It just simply makes sense.”
Dr. Hughes adds, “People who are able to let go of the small things in life tend to do so much better mentally and physically. Henry David Thoreau said that so many of us live these lives of ‘quiet desperation.’ At some point, the constant stress, worry and lack of positivity simply wear one down physically. Even faith-based individuals can struggle with this issue daily.”
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.