The Surprising Secret to a Longer Life

The search for the Fountain of Youth has gone on for centuries. Despite the ongoing quest (and some false claims), the mythical fountain has never been found.

Although only .2 percent of the U.S. population consists of centenarians (those over 100 years of age), the number of 100+ Americans has been increasing rapidly. It’s not the Fountain of Youth at work, but rather something much easier to find.

Link between Personality and Physiology

Recent scientific research has uncovered a secret to living a longer life is having a positive attitude and a sense of humor.

That’s right – it’s not about having the best genetics or giving up smoking, although those still play a role. In fact, the study shows that genetics plays a role in one third of long livers, but many of those who live into their 100s are from families with a history of illness.

Clean family health history or genetic predispositions to Alzheimer’s disease or other sicknesses don’t seem to be the main guiding factor, as once thought. There is, however, a strong link between longer lives and positive attitudes.

Even researchers who were not involved in the study have stated that “there’s an interaction between personality and physiology” and that “being more positive causes less stress and seems to get people on the right track to live better.”

It is important to note that researchers are trying to determine if we can change longevity by having a positive attitude, or if achieving longevity causes a positive attitude. However, it can’t hurt to try to improve your odds of a longer life by having a good attitude.

8 Minutes to a Longer Life

So how can you increase your satisfaction with your life – and therefore extend it? A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “people who thought about happy life events for eight minutes every day for three days felt increased life satisfaction four weeks later than they had prior to the study.”

In addition to thinking about positive events for eight minutes a day, there are other ways to improve your attitude. Some tips recommended by Dickinson County Healthcare System include:

  • Posting positive quotes in places you will see them.
  • Smiling – just the act can actually improve your mood.
  • Doing nice things for others, even strangers – also known as paying it forward.
  • Focusing on the good things in your life and counting your blessings.

These simple steps can make a difference in extending your life.

No One Is Always Happy – and That Is OK

Although increased life satisfaction and happiness seem to be keys to living a longer life, life does not come without stress. In fact, one behavioral study found that “a moderate amount of worry is not a bad thing.”

The Longevity Project even “discovered that those who worked the hardest lived the longest. The responsible and successful achievers thrived in every way, especially if they were dedicated to things and people beyond themselves.”

So, if you are striving for a happier and longer life it’s okay to experience stressful situations. In some cases, certain stressors can be good.

Increase Your Chances at a Long Life with a Positive Attitude

Simply having a better attitude about getting older can extend your life.

A study in 2002 states there are two messages: “The discouraging one is that negative self-perceptions can diminish life expectancy; the encouraging one is that positive self-perceptions can prolong life expectancy.”

So, remember to think positive thoughts, to pay it forward, and to have a positive outlook about aging – doing so can help you live a longer, fuller life.
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