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Is living longer all in your head?

A positive attitude to retirement is more strongly linked to living longer than function health, marital and social status or race, according to literally life-changing US research. Amazing right? And this study is just the beginning of the evidence showing positively can lead to longevity.


Optimism can lower the risk of dying

It all started back in 2002, with a scientific study finding 50-year-olds with a positive view about getting older lived seven years longer than those less optimistic about ageing.

From there, positivity, a sense of wellbeing and being generally satisfied with life were shown to lower the risk of dying from any cause in a group of nearly 7,000 American men and women.

And, according to a 2016 study, if you’re an optimistic, mature woman, you may have a lower risk of dying from any cause than your peers who don’t see the glass quite so full.

Look forward to retirement to enjoy it for LONGER

Other studies have shown that positive mental images about physical and psychological health in retirement (fit and healthy retirees socialising extensively and living life to the fullest, for instance) can lead to older adults living significantly longer than those with negative views (retirees with poor health and less social contact, for instance). Up to five years longer in fact.

Importantly, the results in all of these studies held true after removing the impact of other factors that can influence longevity like gender, age, socioeconomics and existing health conditions. In some studies, even health behaviours like diet and physical activity were found to play a lesser role than positive thoughts in extending lifespan.

It may not be too good to be true

It seems positivity about life in general, getting older and retirement leads us to act healthier and be more social – factors that have also been linked to longevity.

Positivity also seems to help counteract the emotional and even physical harm negative feelings cause, and equip us with enduring resources (physical, social and psychological) that we can draw on when things get tough.

Lastly, it seems perception can truly become reality – if you think you’ll be healthy, happy and independent in retirement, you may very well be.