Does Positive Thinking Really Work?
After decades of research, a new study links optimism and positive thinking to a better, longer life.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 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.
Lewina Lee, PhD, a clinical research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston said: “This study has strong public health relevance because it suggests that optimism is one such psychosocial asset that has the potential to extend the human lifespan.
“Interestingly, optimism may be modifiable using relatively simple techniques or therapies.”
It is unclear how exactly optimism helps people attain longer life, however, “…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,” according to senior author Laura Kubzansky, PhD.
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.