Studies have shown that people with higher levels of optimism tend to live longer and have better overall health outcomes. For example, one study found that older women who scored highest on measures of optimism lived, on average, 4.4 years longer than those with the lowest scores.
Optimism gives off energy: Experts attribute this link to several factors, including better stress-coping mechanisms, healthier lifestyles, and stronger social support networks. Optimists tend to be better at regulating their emotions and engaging more effectively in problem-solving strategies.
Being optimistic is heritable: While it may be true that people with good health and a good quality of life may be more likely to experience optimism, studies suggest that optimism is a genetically heritable trait that can be cultivated through concerted interventions. This means that even those who are not naturally optimistic can develop more optimistic attitudes through intentional efforts.
Face the world with faith: Several older adults shared their perspectives on what optimism means to them. For Patricia Reeves, a 73-year-old retiree living alone in Oklahoma City, optimism is a choice she makes every day. She believes that it is possible to see the good in each situation and prefers to focus on what she can learn from challenges.
Grace Harvey, a 100-year-old retired teacher from LaGrange, Georgia, said that she looks for the best to happen in any situation with the help of God. Even though she grew up in poverty, she considers herself blessed to have had loving family members and former students in her life.
Ron Fegley, an 82-year-old retired physicist who lives with his wife in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, is positive about the future because he believes that science is always on an upwards path. He tends to a small orchard and enjoys life as it comes. For Anita Lerek, a Toronto resident over 65, optimism is a cultivated attitude that she developed by taking responsibility for her thoughts and actions.
In conclusion: optimism can have a positive impact on health and longevity. While it is important to note that optimism is not the only factor contributing to good health outcomes, it is one that individuals can work on cultivating to improve their overall well-being.
By intentionally focusing on positive aspects of life, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and building strong social support networks, people can increase their level of optimism and, in turn, their quality of life.