Optimism is defined as a positive belief about the future or the successful outcome of something. It is a great mindset to practice, and recent studies have found that optimism can even lead to a longer lifespan. Learn more about how taking the “glass half full” approach in your day-to-day can lead to long-term benefits.
The Harvard Study
A recent study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of optimism were associated with longer lifespans in women across racial and ethnic groups. Researchers analyzed data of over 159,000 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative, which included women who enrolled at ages 50–79 (from 1993 to 1998) and were followed for up to 26 years throughout their lifetime.
Researchers found that the most optimistic women lived approximately 4.4 years longer on average when compared to the least optimistic women. Additionally, the most optimistic women were more likely to achieve “exceptional longevity” which is defined as living beyond 85 years of age.
“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.” – Hayami Koga, PhD student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences studying in the Population Health Sciences program in partnership with Harvard Chan School
Read the Harvard study: Optimism, lifestyle, and longevity in a racially diverse cohort of women. Originally published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in June 2022.
Similarly, another study conducted in 2019 also found that optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in both men and women. Their studies showed that on average, optimism led from 11% to 15% longer life span, and led to to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity.”
Read the study: Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women. Originally published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in September 2019.
“Looking on the Bright Side May Be Good for Your Health” by New York Times.
“Optimists For The Win: Finding The Bright Side Might Help You Live Longer” by NPR.
“Optimists live longer, study finds. Here’s how to boost positive thinking” by Today.com.
The bottom line: optimism is key!
We encourage everyone to make it a habit to practice optimism each day.