Research studies so often focus on the risk factors for various diseases and shortened life spans, but they rarely focus on what makes us more likely to be health and live a long life.
“After decades of research, a new study links optimism and prolonged life. Researchers have found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve ‘exceptional longevity,’ that is, living to age 85 or older.
Optimism refers to a general expectation that good things will happen, or believing that the future will be favorable because we can control important outcomes. Whereas research has identified many risk factors that increase the likelihood of diseases and premature death, much less is known about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging…
It is unclear how exactly optimism helps people attain longer life. “Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behavior as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively,” said senior author Laura Kubzansky, PhD, MPH, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and co-director, Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The researchers also consider that more optimistic people tend to have healthier habits, such as being more likely to engage in more exercise and less likely to smoke, which could extend lifespan.”
One way to change your state of mind is to keep a gratitude journal. Start and end your day by writing down something for which you’re grateful. It’s a good way of resetting your brain, and you’ll find that you start looking for things throughout the day to be thankful for. And if you have a hard time sticking to it, try pairing up with a friend to exchange emails with your “gratitudes.” They’ll help you see the world differently when you read the things they’re grateful for, and they’ll hold you accountable and make sure you’re doing it, too. Plus, it’s a great way to keep in touch with someone you love who you might not see regularly.
Still struggling to change your mindset? Consider seeing a life coach/personal development coach/therapist. They can help give you the tools to change how you look at the world and process the harder things you’ve been through so that they don’t continue to hurt you.