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To live longer, look at the bright side

A woman on a hike smiles with her dog for a picture.

Two glasses half-filled with water. One says, Half full. One says, Half empty. Which one are you?

Sept. 18, 2019—Hoping for a long life? Then look on the bright side, a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America suggests. It found that optimists boost their chances of making it to age 85 and beyond.

Past research already indicated that a positive outlook protects against chronic diseases and dying prematurely. But these findings add another possible benefit: exceptional longevity.

The large-scale study included roughly 70,000 women and 1,500 men. Both groups completed surveys assessing their levels of optimism.

Researchers tracked the women for 10 years and the men for 30. Compared to those who were the least optimistic, the sunniest had:

  • An 11% to 15% longer lifespan.
  • A 50% to 70% chance of living to at least 85.

It's not clear yet why staying positive might add years to your life. But optimists may be better at bouncing back from stress, the researchers said. They might also have heathier habits.

And what if you don't tend to see a glass as half-full? Well, this should encourage you: Optimism is a trait you can acquire—at least to a degree, the researchers said.

Check out this video to learn how feel better about things.

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