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Optimistic Women Live Longer

The Power of Positive Thinking: Optimists Live Longer


Do you see this glass as half full or half empty? Careful now: how you answer could determine the length of your life.

This may not come as much of a surprise, but optimists live longer. Using data from 100,000 women over age 50, the Women's Health Initiative, which began in 1994, found that self-described optimists were more likely to be alive after the first eight years of tracking participants' health. While these optimists were less likely to die from any cause, research found that 30 percent of participating women were less likely to die from heart disease, the leading cause of death in women in the US. Conversely, pessimistic women had a "higher overall death rate," and they were also 23 percent more likely to die from conditions related to cancer.

This, the first study to focus on women and optimism versus pessimism, took many factors into account when determining the longevity of the positive thinkers, and winnowed out factors like income, education, health behaviors, smoking, and physical activity. Researchers believe that optimists in general have larger social networks to turn to during crises, and that they just cope better with stress, which has been associated with heart disease.

So look at that glass again, and try to see it as half full. It will do you a world of good. DearSugar is curious about your state of mind too, and wants to know if you're having a hard time feeling optimistic?

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