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How Optimism Can Help Us Live Longer, Happier Lives

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It can be difficult for anyone to maintain an optimistic outlook, but those of a certain age have a deeper understanding of its importance to staying healthy and living longer. Studies show we’re less optimistic in our thirties and forties, but increasingly more optimistic as we get older. While these are broad studies that take a multitude of factors and specifics into account, it’s still not something we can count on. Optimism comes and goes in our lives for a wide variety of reasons, but you can have more control over feelings of optimism under almost any circumstance.

Anecdotal belief about optimism is now being supported by a growing body of research showing it may help to fuel longer life. A new study by Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve "exceptional longevity” into their eighties or older. Although researchers are unclear on how optimism works in longevity, there is more than anecdotal evidence optimism helps us:

  • Recover from illness and tragedy faster
  • Cope with stress that can affect our health
  • Stick with physical, mental, and social things that keep us healthier           

The researchers take the position that optimism helps us engage and continue healthy habits like quitting smoking, eating healthy, exercising, and visiting with a medical care provider.

 

Ways to Put Optimism Under Your Own Control

By focusing on exercises like the longstanding Best Possible Self Method, you can envision things that make you happy and concentrate on a present and future vision of what your best possible life can look like. This simple exercise is shown to be valid via profiles in publications like Psychology Today, Berkley University’s Greater Good Science Magazine, and many others.

There are also ways to stay focused on the positive aspects of your life to restore, maintain, and boost your optimism, such as:

  • Keeping a journal of the things you are thankful for and reviewing it daily or when optimism is low
  • Spending more time with optimistic people engaging in activities that bring you joy
  • Undertaking physician-recommended physical activities fitting your health status

Optimism doesn’t always come easy with any activity or method, but it can often be a reward that comes from putting in the effort for its own sake. For example, sticking with exercise regimens when you may not be at your most optimistic is an effort that delivers distraction in the moment from what robs you of your optimism.

Physical exercise as simple as walking can release natural chemicals in the body called endorphins that provide a good feeling, which helps us make exercise a regular part of our lives. It’s true the link between good feelings brought on by exercise and endorphins doesn’t directly lead to an optimistic outlook, but the good feeling provides a clear bridge that gives optimistic thoughts fertile ground to take hold in our daily lives. The exercise itself and making it part of our daily lives sets us up for a longer life.

 

Maintaining Optimism is a Team Endeavor

Activities, exercises, and good nutrition work to help us fight back physical ailments and chronic conditions hampering longer life. As in all things having to do with our bodies and our minds, consulting your physician about all aspects of physical, mental, and dietary decisions is imperative. This is the best way to ensure a balanced approach right for your individual circumstances. No matter what your level of health or age, staying optimistic and positive is much easier when you have people, places, and activities that are part of your daily routine. To learn more about staying healthy happy and optimistic, continue to explore our Avenida Life Blog.

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