Could negativity affect your lifespan?

Could negativity affect your lifespan?

Have you ever considered how your attitude may be impacting your overall health? And could those people in your life who are always happy really have a leg-up on healthy aging, allowing them to live longer?

According to a study recently published in PNAS, there may be some truth to this. A team in Boston published a study that suggests a link between optimistic individuals and a higher likelihood to live past 85 years old.

The study aimed to see if there was a psychological component to healthy aging and if it could prolong an individual’s longevity. A group of men and women were given a survey to determine how optimistic they were based on how they would think or react to certain situations. In studying a group of men and women over several years, the results suggest that those who were considered to be more optimistic tended to have “an 11-15% longer lifespan, and had far great odds of reaching 85 years old.”

While this study did not determine what specifically factors into that longer life and exactly how optimism plays a role in that, another study suggests that this type of mentality could keep stress low, positively impacting heart health, for example.

Dr. Syeda Quadri, a family medical practitioner with Advocate Medical Group based in Lombard, Ill., says that while there isn’t a direct correlation between optimism and longevity, keeping an optimistic attitude can be beneficial in improving quality of life.

In her practice, she has seen many instances where patients who are able to look at their situation with a ‘glass half full’ mentality are typically more compliant with treatment plans, hence leading to better outcomes.

In any situation, a positive outlook can serve as a very effective tool, Dr. Quadri says.

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  1. Sigh. Did the study control for actual life experiences of people? Is it maybe possible that people with “negative attitudes” have in fact had more negative experiences, and maybe *that’s* what accounts for the shorter life span?

  2. I suspect that those with negative experiences have them largely because of their negative attitudes… or that may be a contributing factor one way or the other. In my experience, one needs to strive for a positive attitude and faith in those who do good things for others, which we should all try to do, imho. If everyone in the world was nice to each other, the world would be a much better place.

  3. There are those that no matter what can not see anything positive. I pray for those. There are those that have had negative all their lives, but really seen the light of enduring a wonderful peaceful life some how. Keeping the negative out is at times can be challenging but can be done. I again with James “If everyone in the world was nice to each other, the world would be a much better place.” Positive feeling and thinking is so hard for some of us and it should not be.

  4. Dienne makes a valid assertion. What are the controls in this study and overlooked factors in the lives of “negative” people? I consider myself a positive person, but also a curious, inquisitive, truth seeking person and I have been exposed to information that helps me to understand more why negative people are “negative.” Negative people are negative for lots of reasons and we positive people need to have a reality check regarding life and it’s inequalities. We need to allow our good experiences that give us hope to be extended towards others who need our consideration, understanding, and compassion. There are aspects of unfortunate circumstances that creates a greater awareness of the reality of evil and malevolence in our world, enough awareness to cause even the most positive of us to fall into negative territory if exposed. Important to walk a mile in another’s shoes before thinking that we know so much… Everyone could use more understanding: negatives and positives.

About the Author

Stephanie Behling
Stephanie Behling

Stephanie Behling, health enews contributor, is an integrated marketing manager at Advocate Aurora Health Care in Downers Grove. She has an MBA from DePaul University, a BSLAS from the University of Illinois and 10 years experience in health care marketing. Stephanie is a new mom, loves spending time in Door County, Wisconsin and boating with her husband, son and their two dogs.