Longer lives one who is aware of his happiness

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Longer lives one who is aware of his happiness

Having learned to notice the good in our life, we make it much more enjoyable and, according to scientists, long. Numerous studies show that optimists have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and pulmonary dysfunction. Optimism also correlates with a lower risk of early death from cancer and infections, and generally with longevity. Clinical psychologist David Ax offers a closer look at this relationship.
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A study by the American National Academy of Sciences found that people with a high level of optimism live longer lives, reaching the age of 85 years and older. Scientists came to this conclusion by analyzing data from two large studies in which about 70,000 women and about 1,400 men were interviewed (white, with a higher socio-economic status than the main section of the US population).

The first study used testing to measure optimism. Respondents were asked to determine whether they agree with the statements presented in the questionnaire. The second study was based on a scale of optimism and pessimism in the framework of personality assessment. The task of scientists was to study what interpretation people give to various events of their life.

It turned out that a higher level of optimism is associated with a longer life expectancy: people with the most positive ratings live up to 85 years or more. The study took into account factors such as chronic physical conditions (e.g., hypertension or high cholesterol) and self-care (smoking or drinking).

Researchers did not aim to find an answer to the question of how optimism can affect our life expectancy, but shared some observations. Although optimism can be partially inherited, the environment and learning have a significant impact, which means we can all learn to be more optimistic.

How to learn to see what is good in what is happening

Regardless of whether we are born optimistic or not, it is in our power to take certain steps in this direction. To do this, you need:

1. Rethink situations

Faced with difficulties, many tend to consider only the negative aspects of the situation, plus considering everything to be unchanged. To rethink the current state of affairs, David Ax proposes to look for positive aspects in it. Ask yourself: “What can I learn from this situation? What can I tell others about later when I solve the problem? ”

2. Set specific goals

We can be realistic, set achievable goals for every day and adjust them as necessary. For example, instead of the immense concept of “clean house,” clearly identify the areas that are planned to be cleaned: wash the sink, wipe the dust on the shelf, and so on. Studies show that setting goals and confidence in their achievement are associated with optimism.

3. Planned focus on positive

You can think about positive events that happen every day at a specific time, for example, before going to bed. What went well? What are we satisfied with? What are we proud of?

4. Master the gratitude meditation

This practice allows us to arouse a sense of gratitude for the positive aspects of life regarding family members, friends, work or even property.

5. Strengthen social relations

Researchers noted that optimism is associated with strong social ties. Time spent with relatives and friends, regular participation in group and social events is extremely important: they help us to feel our stability in society. The therapist recommends spending time with positive people, with those who support us.

6. Practice half-smile

The technique of psychotherapy to cope with sad feelings is to smile for several minutes every day. If a full smile is not possible, try a half smile. “Pay attention to how it affects your thoughts, mood and level of optimism,” advises David Ax.

Many of us will have to devote time and efforts to learn how to concentrate on the positive aspects and notice small moments of happiness. But increasing the probable duration and improving the quality of life is a good motivation in order to start working in the chosen direction.

About the Author: David Ax is a clinical psychologist and professor at Harvard Medical School.
Prepared by: Elena Sivkova
Photo Source: Getty images

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