A Positive Attitude Increases Lifespan

Tong Yun

PureInsight | October 28, 2002

As we all know, one needs to keep healthy in order to live longer. However, scientists recently found that the mentalities of elderly people, especially their respective attitudes toward aging, affect their life spans.

According to a July 28, 2002 report from Reuters, entitled "Elderly Can Think Themselves into the Grave," "people who said they had more positive views about aging lived an average 7.6 years longer than those with negative perceptions [1]." The research reported a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychology Association [2].

"How one feels about getting old is more important even than having low blood pressure or cholesterol," said the researchers led by psychologist Becca Levy of Yale University. "The effect of more positive self-perceptions of aging on survival is greater than the physiological measures of low systolic blood pressure and cholesterol [1]."

It is commonly known that high blood pressure and high cholesterol endanger one's health. Therefore, keeping a low systolic blood pressure and cholesterol have become a concern of society. But the research showed that positive self-perceptions of aging have a greater influence on a longer lifespan. Low blood pressure and low cholesterol are each associated with a longer lifespan of up to 4 years. In contrast, positive self-perceptions of aging increase the average lifespan by nearly 8 years.

A positive self-perception of aging "is also greater than the independent contributions of lower body mass index, no history of smoking, and a tendency to exercise. Each of these factors has been found to contribute between one and three years of added life [1]."

"The researchers looked at a survey of 660 Ohio residents aged over 50 and older who took part in the Ohio Longitudinal Study of Aging and Retirement as far back as 23 years. One of the survey items, all of which have agree or disagree choices, included, 'As you get older, you are less useful [1].'"

The National Institute of Aging funded this research.

From the research findings, it is apparent that one needs to maintain an open, tolerant, peaceful mind in order to live longer.

1. http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/grave.htm
2. Levy BR, Slade MD, Kunkel SR, Kasl SV. Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 2002 Aug; 83(2):261-70.

Translated from: http://www.zhengjian.org/zj/articles/2002/10/1/18730.html

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