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VidaCura Newsletter VidaCura Newsletter: Taking Care of Ourselves: Health and Wellness Information You Can Use
Health and Wellness Information You Can Use
  Is your glass half-full or
Optimists Live Longer, Study Says
Posted: September 29, 2008

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? How long (and healthily) you live may depend on your answer.

Over the past decade, studies have shown conclusively that having a good attitude influences physical health. And that certain personality traits - especially being optimistic, but also being extroverted and conscientious and open to new ideas - influence not only how well you live but how long you live well.

Indeed, a Dutch study of men and women aged 65 to 85 found that being an optimist helps reduce your risk of dying from heart disease and all other causes, too. According to the study, death rates from all causes were 55% lower for those with the highest optimistic/positive outlook and the risks of dying from heart disease were 23% lower.

The study also found that being optimistic had a bigger health impact for men than women. Highly optimistic women reduced their risk of dying by 1/3; highly optimistic men reduced theirs' by 2/3.

Having a low optimism quotient isn't just a risk factor for dying before your time, however. The findings also noted that people who had high pessimism scores had a 30% increased risk of developing dementia. The same was true of individuals who had high depression scores. And the risk escalated - to over 40% - for people who scored very high on both tests.

The study, and several others (see below), concluded that a predisposition toward optimism - i.e. seeing the glass as half full - didn't just enhance quality of life, it provided health benefits, too. While it is not yet clear why or how things that clearly originate in the mind - optimism, enthusiasm, confidence, cheerfulness, serenity, etc. - can help people live longer, research is clearly showing that they do.

And that's not all. Besides lowering the risk for early death, researchers have found that those who score high on being high on life also report:

• Fewer problems with daily and social activities
• Better emtional health
• Less chronic pain and fewer limitations due to pain
• Increased energy
• Feeling happier, less stressed and anxious, and more peaceful and calm

More Information: Article: Happiness and life satisfaction prospectively predict self-rated health, physical health, and the presences of limiting, long-term health conditions
The Seattle Longitudinal Study: Relationship Between Personality and Cognition
Personality Predictors of Longevity: Activity, Emotional Stability, and Conscientiousness
Issue 1: September, 2008
Optimists Live Longer
Eating Smarter
Tips to Avoid Falls
Health Checklist for 50+
Compression Stockings
The Benefits of Grains
Welcome to VidaCura
Letter from the Editor
VidaCura Blog
VidaCura Main Site
AARP Health Resources
New York Times Health NPR: On Health Podcast
NPR: Health Care
What if you don't have health insurance? VidaCura Co-founder Larry Berk offers some advice. Read more>

Do bad times equal better health? Read more>
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