Hi from Sophie.
Today I'm writing to you about two of my favourite topics that I have written books about... Happiness and healthy ageing.
Whether you are happy is a significant factor in your health and well-being and can even determine how long you will live.
A few years ago, I wrote a book about healthy ageing called Live a Longer Life.
When I was researching that book, I found strong scientific evidence that being happy and having a positive attitude can boost your lifespan.
The idea that what you are thinking can influence your health isn’t new.
But there is growing evidence in large studies that an upbeat view of life can have a significant impact on your lifespan.
Some researchers believe those people who are more resilient or have skills to cope with changes, seem to stay healthier and live longer.
And those people who have a more positive attitude towards the process of ageing have a much better quality of life, as they age.
Research has shown that people who live to be more than 100 tend to manage stress well.
Findings from the New England Centenarian Study show many centenarians have similar personality traits.
Project leader Dr Thomas Perls says people who live to the age of 100 tend not to dwell on things or internalize things that might be stressful, rather they just let it go.
One man who lived to 100 was asked about the best thing about reaching such a ripe old age.
"There's no peer pressure," he replied.
It’s not simply that “thinking positively” might make you live longer.
Scientists can go even further and quantify the effect of optimism on longevity.
Experts from Yale University found that a positive view of life could add seven and a half years to a person’s lifespan.
In 1975, Dr Becca Levy, from Yale University, interviewed more than 500 people from a small town in the United States, who were aged 50 at the time.
They were asked about their views on ageing, and asked to answer yes or no to statements such as ‘as you get older, you get less useful”,
“things keep getting worse as I get older’
and “I am as happy now as when I was younger.”
Her study published 27 years later, found a positive or upbeat attitude towards ageing added seven and a half years to lifespan.
That was after taking into account other factors such as age, gender, overall health, loneliness and socio-economic status.
Researchers admit they were surprised the effect was so great and that having an optimistic view of ageing could result in a life span boost of such magnitude.
This was a big breakthrough in happiness research...
Because optimistic thinking is something we can all learn to do, as I found while writing my book Roadtesting Happiness.
Optimistic thinkers tend to be more active and proactive.
They are more likely to pick themselves up when they are feeling sick and start to feel better.
They are resilient, a quality that helps us get through life.
It's a topic I will write more about in my next post. :)
I would love to hear your thoughts about happiness and healthy ageing.
Until next time,
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