New York (CNN) – You don't have to be a Monty Python fan to whistle with Eric Idol as he "Always watch from the bright side of life" as he contemplates the death of the cross.
The British satire aside, focusing on the top of life could easily be a song on a research topic focusing on a key component of longevity: optimism.
Optimism does not mean ignoring the stresses of life. But when negative things happen, optimistic people are less likely to blame themselves and more likely to see the obstacle as temporary or even positive. They also believe that they have control over their destiny and can create opportunities for good things to happen in the future.
A new study published on Monday found that men and women with the highest levels of optimism had an 1
The results turned out to be true, the study found even in socioeconomic status, health conditions, depression, smoking, social commitment, poor diet and alcohol use
"It was the first study to consider the impact of optimism on extremely long-term optimism , which is defined as living to the age of 85 or older, "says lead author Levina Lee, a psychiatry assistant at Boston University's School of Medicine. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study found that women with the highest levels of optimism had 1.5 higher life expectancies of up to 85 or more than those with the lowest levels of optimism. Highly optimistic men were 1.7 more likely to live up to this age than the more pessimistic. Again, these relationships remained true even after adjusting for health behavior.
How can an optimistic attitude help you live a much longer life?
"Optimistic individuals tend to have goals and the confidence to achieve them," Lee says. "These goals may include healthy habits that contribute to a longer life." system, better lung function, and lower mortality risk, among others.
"Optimism is an important psychological dimension that has emerged as a display of some really interesting associations with health," says neurologist Richard Davidson, professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds.
"And I would add other positive qualities, such as consciousness, compassion, kindness, and a strong sense of purpose in life," Davidson added.
Twin studies find only about 25% of our optimism is programmed by our genes. The rest depends on us and how we react to the lemons in life.
If you tend to be a pussy for the stresses of your life, don't worry. It turns out that you can actually train your brain to be more positive.
"There are studies that show that optimism can actually be enhanced or nourished through certain types of workouts," Davidson said. "So this opens the possibility of cultivating optimism and other positive qualities to lead to significant improvements in health outcomes, including longevity."
At the Davidson Healthy Mind Center, researchers examined the brains of Tibetan Buddhist monks recruited by Whether the Lama and found startling results: Tens of thousands of hours of meditation have permanently altered the structure and function of the monks' brains.
But you don't have to devote your life to meditation to see change, Davidson said. He cited the results of a randomized controlled trial of people who had never meditated before.
Using direct measures of brain function and structure, Davidson found that it took only 30 minutes a day for two weeks to meditate to produce a measurable change in the brain.
"When these types of mental exercises are taught to people, it actually changes the function and structure of their brain in ways that we think support that kind of positive qualities," Davidson said. "And that can be key to producing an impact on the body downstream."
There are simple mental exercises that any person can do to nourish an optimistic perspective.
Imagine Your Best Self
One of the best effective ways to increase optimism, according to a meta-analysis of existing research, is called the "Best Possible I" method. Interventions using this approach will help you to imagine yourself in a future where you have achieved all your life goals and all your problems have been resolved.
For example, one technique is to write for 15 minutes for a future day in your life in which you have fulfilled everything you desire. He then spent five minutes presenting this reality. Practicing this daily can greatly enhance your positive feelings.
In a 2011 study, students practiced the best self-directed exercise possible for 15 minutes per week for eight weeks. Not only did they feel more positive, the feelings lasted for about six months.
Keep a journal of the positives
Many of us can easily recite a litany of negative things that happen to us every day. But ask what went well and we may stumble. That is why keeping a diary that lists the positive experiences you have had that day can help shape your perspective.
Taking a few minutes each day to write down what makes you grateful can improve your life prospects A number of studies show that practicing gratitude enhances positive coping skills by disrupting typical style of negative thinking and replaces optimism. Counting blessings even reduced problem behavior in adolescents. Practice mindfulness
One of Davidson's favorite mindfulness exercises is cultivating appreciation.
"Just to get to know the people in our lives from whom we have received some help," Davidson said. "Keep them in mind and evaluate the care and support or whatever these people have provided.
"You can spend one minute every morning and every night doing this," he said. "And that kind of appreciation is something that can foster a sense of optimism for the future."
Like exercises, mindfulness will need to be practiced regularly to maintain a positive brain perspective in good shape, Davidson said. But the effort is definitely worth it.
"This is really about nourishing the mind," he said. "And there is sufficient evidence to suggest that there are real psychological and physical health benefits."
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