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Study finds link between healthy aging and optimism

BOSTON, Mass. — Looking on the bright side of life can actually help you age more gracefully, according to a new study. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine examined the impact of optimism on a person’s health and found that staying positive helps people interpret stressful situations differently.

In a study of older men, the team found that being more or less optimistic made no difference in how participants responded to stressors, but being more optimistic did. to more emotional well-being. More optimistic men also experienced fewer stressful situations and interpreted fewer events as stressful for them personally.

“This study tests one possible explanation, assessing whether more optimistic people deal with daily stress more constructively and therefore experience greater emotional well-being,” says corresponding author Lewina Lee, PhD, clinical psychologist at the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the VA Boston Healthcare System, in a university outing.

don’t worry, be happy

The team examined 233 older men over the course of 14 years. Participants first completed an optimism questionnaire before reporting on their daily stressors over the years. The men also kept track of their positive and negative moods for eight consecutive nights on three different occasions over eight years during the study. The results show that more optimistic men reported fewer instances of low mood and had fewer stressors during the experiment.

Previous research shows that stress can have a serious impact on a person’s health. Studies link stress to higher levels of inflammation, which can contribute to faster aging and even the onset of diseases like dementia.

The study authors say there is evidence that optimism can help promote good health and a longer lifespan. However, few studies have actually looked at how maintaining a positive mindset helps achieve this goal.

“Stress, on the other hand, is known to have a negative impact on our health. By examining whether optimistic people deal with everyday stressors differently, our results add to the knowledge about how optimism can promote good health as people age,” says Lee.

The results appear online in the Journals of gerontology, series B: psychological sciences and social sciences.