Embrace Aging With Positive Thinking

There are many benefits of positive thinking, including stress reduction, improved immunity, and a lower risk for heart disease. But did you know that keeping a positive outlook can help you live longer, too? Here’s what research says about optimism and aging, and what you can do to reap the rewards.

Add Years to Your Life

Studies show that how you perceive aging and your life as a whole affects longevity. A 2019 study found that positive thinking can result in an 11–15% longer lifespan and a stronger likelihood of living to age 85 or older. This effect remained after other factors such as age, gender, income, depression, and health status were controlled.

Look Forward to Aging

Research on the topic has found that people who have a positive outlook on aging while they are young, rather than dreading growing old, have a greater chance of living longer. That’s because adjusting your opinion on aging while you’re still young can build a positive perspective that can have a tremendous effect on your life expectancy.

Improve Resiliency

Findings suggest that positive thinking about aging can increase a person’s will to live, making them more resilient to illness and more proactive about health. Those with a positive outlook are also likely to experience less stress, reducing their likelihood of developing chronic diseases or disorders.

Find Insight as You Age

Our society tends to prize youth and beauty, while messages about aging tend to emphasize the negative aspects. But, like fine wine, people should get better as they age. Experience, combined with maturity, gives older people great insight. They’re often more in touch spiritually and they prioritize depth in their life. By following a simple, healthy lifestyle you can preserve your health and energy through life.

Other Markers of Healthy Aging

In addition to positive thinking, there are lifestyle factors that can add years to your life, including exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutrient-dense diet, consuming only moderate amounts of alcohol (if any), and not smoking, all of which can help extend lifespan by 12–14 years.

While studies point to living longer, they don’t often discuss the improved quality of life that comes with it. But as the field of positive psychology is exploring, beyond increased lifespan, positive thoughts and emotions can contribute tremendously to happiness so you can enjoy a richer, more satisfying life.