Research was done on 69,744 women and 1,429 men. Both of these groups completed survey measures to assess their level of optimism, as well as their overall health and health habits such as diet, smoking and alcohol use.

Women were followed for 10 years.
Men were followed for 30 years.

When individuals were compared based on their initial levels of optimism, the researchers found that the most optimistic men and women demonstrated, on average, an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan, and had 50-70 percent greater odds of reaching 85 years old compared to the least optimistic groups. The results were maintained after accounting for age, demographic factors such as educational attainment, chronic diseases, depression and also health behaviors, such as alcohol use, exercise, diet and primary care visits.

The researchers are from Boston University School of Medicine, National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  What they found is that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve "exceptional longevity," that is, living to age 85 or older.

"Other research suggests that more optimistic people may be able to regulate emotions and behavior as well as bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively," said senior author Laura Kubzgrtrttansky, Ph.D., MPH, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences and co-director, Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"Our study contributes to scientific knowledge on health assets that may protect against mortality risk and promote resilient aging. We hope that our findings will inspire further research on interventions to enhance positive health assets that may improve the public's health with aging," added Lee.

These findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Click link below for the research details.
Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women

What is optimism?

Optimism refers to a general expectation that good things will happen, or believing that the future will be beneficial because we can control important outcomes.

How Can You Be More Optimistic?

Since the definition is about having a favourable future, then the best way to have a great future is to plan for it. For example, I was listening to a podcast of a high achiever who is starting to write a book that he thinks will take 50 years to write.  That's a long term optimistic plan!

For inspiration, here are some optimism quotes to help you live long and prosper...

“It isn’t all over; everything has not been invented; the human adventure is just beginning.”– Gene Roddenberry (Creator of Star Trek)

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.”– Winston Churchill 

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”– Oscar Wilde

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”– Anne Frank

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”– J.R.R.Tolkien

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”– Marcus Aurelius

“Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.”– Voltaire

“I am an optimist. Anyone interested in the future has to be otherwise he would simply shoot himself.”– Arthur C. Clarke

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”– Helen Keller

“Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don’t hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic people.”– Zig Ziglar

In December my grandmother had her 90th birthday party.  After it was over, I took some of her napkins that said '90th Birthday'.
I kept them not just as a souvenir, but to save them for my 90th party.  Maybe they'll be out of style but, I'm optimistic.

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