5 Personality Traits That Will Help You Live Longer (And 5 That Won't) - Health Digest


Optimism is a positive outlook on life that research confirms has a strong influence on health and overall well-being. A 2019 study involving over 70,000 participants found that people with self-rated high optimism tended to lead healthier lives and had a higher likelihood of reaching age 85 or older than less optimistic people (per Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

The reasons for these results are unclear, but researchers think it’s a combination of biological and behavioral aspects. Optimistic individuals have lower inflammation levels, healthier cholesterol profiles, and tend to have healthier habits such as regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, and abstaining from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Optimism also helps people cope better with illness and recovery. They are also more resilient and tend to have lower stress levels. Stress is associated with the development of a number of conditions, including high blood pressure and blood sugar, digestive diseases, chronic pain, and a host of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety (via GoodRx).

While genetics play a role — optimism is about 25% to 30% heritable — factors like income, education, geography, and social status influence one’s optimism (via Harvard Health Publishing). Environmental changes and alterations in social structures might impact optimism levels, yet people can learn to cultivate greater optimism independently.

Practices like seeking opportunities in challenging situations, choosing healthier activities during challenging times rather than relying on substances like drugs and alcohol, and practicing gratitude all contribute to a positive outlook.


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