Roy Scott / Ikon Images through Getty Images Therapists can help you rethink your expectations.
The Good News for Fun: A Boston poll released this month suggests that people who are more likely to be optimistic are more likely to live to be 85 or older.
This finding is independent of other factors thought to affect life expectancy – such as "socioeconomic status, health conditions, depression, social integration and health behavior", by researchers at Boston Medical School and Harvard TH They say the Chan School of Public Health. Their work has appeared in the recent issue of the scientific journal PNAS .
"In this issue, we wanted to consider the benefits of psychological resources as optimism as possible new targets for promoting healthy aging," says Levina Lee, who heads the study. She is a clinical psychologist at Boston University. "The more we know about ways to promote healthy aging, the better."
Researchers already knew from previous work that optimistic individuals tend to reduce their risk of depression, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. But can optimism be linked to extreme longevity? Lee reviews medical records from two long-term studies – one involving female nurses and the other involving men, mostly veterans.
The study included 69 744 women and 1429 men. Both groups completed exploratory measures to assess their level of optimism, as well as their general health and wellness habits such as diet, smoking and alcohol use. In the study, study participants were asked if they agreed with statements such as "in uncertain times I usually expect the best" or "I usually expect to succeed in the things I do."
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The health outcomes of women in the study were monitored for 10 years, while men's health was followed for 30 years. Researchers find that the most optimistic men and women show an average of 11-15% longer life expectancy and are much more likely to reach 85 years of age than the least optimistic group.
Now, researchers say they can "not say from this study how optimism can affect longevity. People with optimism may be more motivated to try to maintain good health – such as maintaining a decent diet by engaging in regular exercise and not smoking.
They can also be better at managing stress, Lee says. The severity of anxiety is well known to have adverse health effects, including increases in heart disease, liver disease, and gastrointestinal pain
Clinical Health Psychologist Natalie Datilo, of Brigham and Boston Women's Hospital, says even if it doesn't come naturally, one can learn from optimism. In her practice, she works mostly with adults who struggle with depression and anxiety – "a lot of people are worried," she says. Many are pessimistic and "tend to see things through a half-empty glass and usually expect negative results."
In his treatment, Datilo works to broaden his worldview so that their range of assumptions about the world and themselves are higher. and empowering.
"We examine their thinking under a psychological microscope," says Datilo, and discusses why they predict a specific negative result. "If we can look at it together, we can start to discover systems of beliefs and assumptions that people make for themselves in our lives, and we can start to change them."
Dato causes patients to pay attention when the negative perspective starts at, and consciously shift it. "Just try, try different thoughts, attitudes or thinking and play this and just see what happens," she advises.
Additionally, she emphasizes, optimism is not simply a lack of depression or sadness or stress.
"People who think in optimistic ways are still prone to stress," she says. "They function in our society, they meet the requirements inclined to burn. And it's not like negative events don't happen."
But the way they handle problems matters, she says. Difficulties do not tend to cause them distress for long periods of time.
"Sustainability is our ability to bounce back, to recover," she says. "And what this study shows is that optimism actually plays a very big role in our ability to bounce back – even to survive failures."
So, dark twists are doomed to short, rough lives, even if they are happy pessimistic? Some people find the eternal optimists impossible.
Levina Lee says she treats pessimistic patients "all the time." While some seem pleased with their prospects, others are more open to being illuminated as they figure out how to achieve important goals.
"I would try to challenge their negativity and shake it," he says, and get rid of some of the more strictly held patient beliefs for his own benefit.
Pessimists who try this are likely to be happier, she suggests. And they can even extend their lives.