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Do you want to live longer? Be an optimist, says study



NEW YORK (CNN) – You do not have to be a Monty Python fan to whistle with Eric Idle while contemplating death on the cross.

British Apart from satire, focussing on the top of life could easily be the title track of research focusing on a key component of longevity: optimism.

Optimism does not mean ignoring the stressors of life. But when negative things happen, optimistic people blame themselves less and see the obstacle as temporary or even positive. They also believe that they can control their destiny and create opportunities for the future.

A new study published Monday found that men and women with the highest optimism had a life span 11 to 15% longer on average than those who did not have positive thinking. The highest rated optimists also had the greatest chance of living at the age of 85 or above.

The findings, the study said, were even considered in terms of socioeconomic status, health status, depression, smoking, social engagement, poor diet and alcohol consumption.

"This was the first study to examine the impact of optimism on exceptional life expectancy defined as being over 85 years of age," said lead author Lewina Lee, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University's School of Health Medicine. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study found that women with the highest level of optimism had 1

.5 longer life expectancies than women with the lowest level of optimism. Highly optimistic men had 1.7 higher life expectancies than more pessimistic ones. These relationships persisted after adaptation to health behavior.

How would an optimistic attitude help you lead a much longer life?

"Optimistic people tend to have goals and self-confidence to achieve them," Lee said. "These goals could include healthy habits that contribute to a longer life."

Previous research has found a direct link between optimism and healthier eating and exercise habits, better heart health, a stronger immune system, and better lung function. "Optimism is an important psychological dimension that has some really interesting relationships with health," said neuroscientist Richard Davidson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds.

"And I want to add other positive attributes, such as mindfulness, compassion, kindness, and a strong sense of life," Davidson added.

Twins study finds only About 25% of our optimism is programmed by our genes. The rest is up to us and how we react to the lemons of life.

Do not worry if you tend to be a sour hangover about the stresses in your life. It turns out that you can actually train your brain to be more positive.

"There is research showing that optimism can actually be promoted or promoted through certain types of training," Davidson said. "This opens up the possibility that maintaining optimism and other positive traits can result in significant improvements in health outcomes, including longevity." The Dali Lama found startling results: tens of thousands of hours of meditation had permanently changed the structure and function of the monks' brain.

But you do not have to devote your life to meditation to see changes, Davidson said. He noted the results of a randomized controlled trial of people who had never meditated before.

Using direct measurements of brain function and structure, Davidson found that it took only 30 minutes of meditation practice over a two-week period to produce a measurable change in the brain.

"When these kinds of mental exercises are taught to humans, it actually alters the function and structure of their brains in ways that we believe support these types of positive traits," Davidson said. "And that can be crucial to provoke the downstream effects on the body."

There are simple mental exercises that anyone can do to develop an optimistic attitude.

  • Imagine your best possible self.

    One of the best effective ways to increase optimism is called a "best-possible-self" method after a meta-analysis of existing studies. Interventions with this approach will prompt you to imagine a future in which you have achieved all your life goals and solved all your problems.

    One technique, for example, is to write about a future day in your life for 15 minutes, in which you have achieved everything you desire. Then I spent five minutes imagining this reality. Daily practice can greatly improve your positive feelings.

    In a study from 2011, students practiced the best possible self-exercise for 15 weeks every week for eight weeks. Not only did they feel more positive, the feelings lasted for about six months.

  • Keep a Positive Diary

    Many of us can easily recite a litany of negative things that happen to us every day. But ask what went well and we could trip. Therefore, it can be helpful to keep a daily diary listing the positive experiences you have made that day.

  • Be thankful.

    Take a few minutes each day to write down what makes you grateful. A number of studies have shown that practicing gratitude improves positive coping skills by breaking the typical negative thinking style and replacing optimism. The counting of blessings even reduced the problem behavior in adolescents.

  • Practice Mindfulness

    One of Davidson's most popular mindfulness practices cultivates esteem.

    "Just to remind us of people in our lives from whom we have received some kind of help," Davidson said. "Remember and appreciate the care and support, or whatever these individuals have done."

    "You can spend a minute every morning and every evening doing this," he said. "And that kind of appreciation can boost a sense of optimism for the future."

    As with sports activities, mindfulness must be practiced regularly to keep the positive attitudes of the brain in good condition, Davidson said. But the effort is definitely worth it.

    "It's really about cultivating the mind," he said. "And there's plenty of evidence that there are real psychological and physical health benefits."

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