A Positive Outlook Might Help You Live Longer
A recent study indicates that being positive and outgoing may have more of an effect on how long you live. The study looked at centernarians, and attempted to identify any genes that might have contributed to them making it to a 100 years old.
"When I started working with centenarians, I thought we'd find that they survived so long in part because they were mean and ornery," said Nir Barzilai, M.D., the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair of Aging Research, director of Einstein's Institute for Aging Research and co-corresponding author of the study. "But when we assessed the personalities of these 243 centenarians, we found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life. Most were outgoing, optimistic and easygoing. They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up."
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The researchers looked at 243 Ashkenazi Jews with an average age of 97.6 years. The reason for using Askenazi, or Eastern European, Jews was because their population is largely homogenous and that makes it easier to identify any genetic differences.
The centenarians were also compared to a representative sample of the U.S. population. It turns out that they had lower scores for displaying neurotic behaviors and higher scores for being conscientious.
"Some evidence indicates that personality can change between the ages of 70 and 100, so we don't know whether our centenarians have maintained their personality traits across their entire lifespans," continued Dr. Barzilai. "Nevertheless, our findings suggest that centenarians share particular personality traits and that genetically-based aspects of personality may play an important role in achieving both good health and exceptional longevity."