What is the secret to eternal youth? It's not usually found in creams that promise fewer wrinkles or endless exercise that will slow down the deterioration of our muscles. In fact, there is no way to stop aging and the cycle of life altogether. We're all getting a day closer to old age every day.
However, there is a key to increasing the odds of living healthy past 90 for women that is surprisingly easy to integrate and has been found to transcend race and ethnicity, according to a study.
The Secret Ingredient To A Long Life
We're not going to it drag out. Let's start out by revealing the secret ingredient and then exploring why it's so important. The secret to living past 90 is....optimism. Yes it's that simple and it sounds cheesy but optimism may not only make you happier, it can also help you live longer.
How does having a positive outlook add years to your life? Well a study done by researchers from Harvard found a correlation between lifespan and optimism in women. The authors discovered that optimistic women had a longer lifespan, with many living past the age of 90.
True Across Culture
What makes this study special is how inclusive it is. Other studies had already found that higher levels of optimism were correlated with living past the age of 85. However, these were based on white populations. This study was able to include more people from diverse backgrounds to prove that it can actually work for anyone, of any age, anywhere...
According to the press release, the study "found no interaction between optimism and any categories of race and ethnicity, and these trends held true after taking into account demographics, chronic conditions, and depression."
Making Each Day Count
If you've never been the type to look at a glass half full, it's okay, it's not entirely too late. The point of the study is to acknowledge that every moment of every day matters because optimism isn't a one-time medication but rather a way of being that includes a choice of reaction in all circumstances.
The study looked at data from 159, 255 women between the ages of 50 and 79 that were followed for 26 years.
Taking Control of Our Own Lives
Optimism may sound like too simple of a hack but it gives us power over our own lives. Most of us struggle with the anxiety of feeling helpless over situations over which we have no control. While it's true that we can't control unfortunate circumstances, we can control how to respond to them when we chose optimism:
The study adds: "A lot of previous work has focused on deficits or risk factors that increase the risks for diseases and premature death. Our findings suggest that there's value to focusing on positive psychological factors, like optimism, as possible new ways of promoting longevity and healthy aging across diverse groups."
The Line Between Toxic Positivity
We need to make a distinction between positive thinking and toxic positivity because it's possible for optimism to be harmful if not used correctly. Optimism is a way of refrain thoughts to gain a positive perspective. It actually rewires your brain.
On the other hand, toxic positivity is a dysfunctional approach to emotional management that happens when people brush off negative emotions. It provides false reassurance because of feeling uncomfortable with negative emotions. It is often well-intentioned but can cause alienation and a feeling of disconnection.
There's More You Can Do!
We tend to think of physical health regimens when it comes to extending our lives and being healthy for as long as possible. However, while things like diet and exercise do help, this study shows that they might not be as valuable as an optimistic outlook.
The study found that lifestyle choices "accounted for less than a quarter of the optimism-lifespan association," when compared to the least optimistic participants, the optimistic women had a 5.4% longer lifespan. According to the CDC, the modern average life expectancy for women is 80.5 years. So those who have a more optimistic outlook might live 10 years longer than the current average lifespan.
Those are 10 extra years of witnessing grandchildren grow, creating memories and pursuing opportunities!
You have The Ability To Rewire Your Brain
It's all science! Every thought releases some type of chemical. Optimism gives you some control over which chemicals to allow into your brain, in turn influencing the rest of your body.
When positive thoughts are generated through optimism, cortisol decreases and the brain produces serotonin, creating a feeling of happiness and promoting well-being. High levels of serotonin make you feel happy, calmer, less anxious, more focused and more emotionally stable. This is just one of the happy chemicals released through optimism. Dopamine is another that helps control the brain’s reward system and pleasure center and associates happy thoughts with success.
The Fountain Of Youth
While optimism can't be taught to those unwelcoming of it, it can be practiced by anyone at any point to become a lifestyle. Knowing that it adds years to the clock should be the incentive...
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