Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

Look on the bright side of life you’ll live longer

Being optimistic and having a positive outlook is something I’m a massive advocate of and now there is even more reason to look on the bright side of life.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests optimists have an 11-15 per-cent longer life than the least optimistic people, and have a much better chance of making it to 85 and older.

Scientists already knew that optimism can give people the self-efficacy to reach difficult goals, protect their health in high-stress times, strengthen their romantic relationships and improve their eating habits.

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They also tend to have a lower risk of chronic diseases and premature death. But this new study has taken this one step further and actually says that optimism increases life expectancy.

If you are reading this and thinking ‘I’m not that kind of person’, don’t worry. The good news is that having an optimistic mind-set is about 25 per-cent hereditary. That’s 75 per-cent which you can change and control to help you look at the glass as being half full.

This wasn’t just some survey carried out by asking people on the street. The research was carried with two independently conducted studies: One that followed nearly 70,000 women for a decade and another that followed about 1,400 men for 30 years.

People self-reported their optimism on questionnaires by ranking themselves on statements including; “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best” or “I’m always optimistic about my future.”

The study leaves one question unanswered: Why are optimists likely to live longer?

Although it’s unclear, the researchers believe optimists may be better at regulating stressors and bouncing back from upsetting events.

Optimists also generally have healthier habits, like exercising more and smoking less. But what can we do to live more optimistically?

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Researchers form this study suggested a few methods, all of which I agree with.

Gratitude Journals

Eric Kim, a researcher on the study, says gratitude journals, writing down three things each day you are grateful for and keeping a note of kind things you do for others can help make you more optimistic.

I have my own morning programme where I will write down events for yesterday and the day ahead.

Mental Imagery and Goal Setting

Figure out what you want to achieve and the step-by-step process you are going to take.

Writing down goals and breaking them into phases helps turn your goal from a fantasy into a reality.

Meditation

Training the mind everyday like any other muscle is one way to help improve and maintain your optimism.

Meditation or simply taking time to reflecting on yourself in a positive manner are great ways to improve this.

Sleep

Kim said that, “When we’re tired, we become emotional and emotional usually means afraid. We’re thinking about the future and we’re worried about how it might turn out in ways that are out of our control. When you’re tired, it’s harder to be logical.”

Getting your seven-eight hours of sleep a night will help fuel that positive mind-set.

Remember like most changes in your life it takes time and conscious practice.

You might not find a shift straight away and it just won’t change dramatically either.

It will be a gradual change and something you might look back and say ‘I would never have said or thought that this time last year’.

So start today and add a few more years onto your happy, healthy, active lifestyle.

Read the full story in this week’s paper, available in your local newsagents today or subscribe to our Digital Edition by clicking below