I often talk about how being positive is good for you and how you could make yourself happy just by thinking you are happy. In doing some research, I found there are many web sites and blogs dedicated to positive thinking and the pursuit of happiness, and new ones are popping up all the time. There are also many books on the topic of personal happiness, and several of them are on the best-sellers list. People are finding that they can indeed "fool" themselves into being happy by having an optimistic outlook. Being happy isn’t so difficult, sometimes you just have to try!
Researchers at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia completed a study on this very topic and have released the results of their study into people who are a hundred years old or older. The researchers studied 244 people aged 100 years or more between 2001 and 2009. They found that critical life events, personal history, how people adapt to situations of stress and how they cope with those situations are crucial to explaining successful aging. One of the scientists, Leonard Poon, said "What is happening to you matters, but more importantly, it is your perception of what is happening to you that is really important for your individual health". In other words, having an upbeat outlook contributes to longevity. The study found this also included having a positive attitude about aging itself! Researchers found that the centenarians' feelings about their health, home and support system was a stronger predictor of survival than other measurers such as blood pressure and blood sugar. The "expert survivors", as they are referred to in the study, were found to be open and conscientious. They accepted aging with the same grace and positive attutidue as they had accepted most events throughout their lives. We should remind ourselves every day to “stay positive and live longer”.
By the way, the researchers also found that in industrialized countries, 6 women reach 100 for every one man. So, if we women are fortunate enough (and happy enough) to live to be 100, we won't have to put up with many "grumpy old men" because only the happy, positive men will grow old along with us. We may have fewer men around us by then, but they will have a happy mindset!
Thank you to the University of Georgia researchers for finding yet another reason for all of us to strive toward having a positive attitude. Who knew that one of the side effects of being happy was that you could live longer?