Do you want to live a long, happy life? Not a problem! Scientists have found that longevity depends on personality and mindset of the person. You can now safely say that happiness is not a result of living longer, but living longer is a direct result of a joyful existence. So a happy life automatically becomes longer.
Of course, the main contributor to longer life are inherited genetic traits, which was proven in the past, but researchers from Boston University (USA) have suggested that people who live longer are different from the rest of population in their psychological and behavioral traits. The scientists decided to find out what these traits may be.
The experiment involved 246 centenarians whose psychological traits such as openness, friendliness and level of neurosis were examined. The hypothesis was that the centenarians possess certain personality characteristics, which constitute the ability to live longer. In particular, the individuals who lived longer had a very high level of extraversion and low level of neurosis. Female centenarians have been found to be particularly friendly to other people. The rest of the centenarians’ traits were no different from ordinary people.
The studies have also confirmed the fact that children of centenarians have a very high likelihood that they themselves will live longer lives. This is a genetic factor that provides 120% protection of centenarians’ offspring from premature death and from diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions. But is personality also hereditary? It seems that it is the direct consequence of nurturing and upbringing. Children simply follow their parents’ steps, especially the in friendliness and openness to the world, which, as scientists believe, play significant role in their health and living a longer life.
Scientists hypothesize that individuals with better communication skills suppress their emotions more rarely and suffer fewer breakdowns, which helps them cope with stressful situations. And numerous friendships they establish help them maintain a positive outlook on life. Thus, according to scientists, psychological characteristics are as important as genetic traits when trying to explain why people live longer. The author of this study is Thomas Perls.
Similar results were obtained by psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh (USA), who conducted their study not on people who lived longer, but on ordinary people. Their eight-year experiment included about a hundred thousand volunteers. Numerous psychological tests, and the life of participants were thoroughly analyzed, which helped in establishing a link between life expectancy and friendliness, coupled with optimism.
The head of this research, Dr. Hilary Tindle, said that during these experiments they were able to establish a connection between certain personality traits and health conditions. For example, a cynical attitude towards other people and anger correlate with high blood pressure and elevated levels of cholesterol. In addition, friendly people usually pay more attention to their physical health and therefore are less likely to suffer from excessive weight.
Scientists and physicians from the British Heart Foundation, in turn, found that cardiovascular system suffers the most from being upset or angry. This happens due to the fact that negative emotions result in release of testosterone in the body, otherwise known as aggression hormone, and its high levels disrupt the functioning of various body systems.
Jealousy can also have a negative impact on health. It was discovered by American psychologists, who published the results of his study in a recent issue of The Psychological Science. In particular, they found that jealousy is literally blinding, that is, it can deteriorate our eyesight! Lovers who took part in this study, were asked to identify the unattractive landscapes, interspersed with beautiful landscape images. Partners were sitting side by side, and after a while the men were asked to estimate random images of women. As a result, it was found that women exhibiting signs of jealousy were unable to detect the unattractive scenery.
Of course, learning to have a constant positive attitude is not easy, because our habits to judge, be aggressive and criticize cannot be eradicated right away. But our personality is a very flexible trait, because it heavily relies on our view of the world. And our personal views about the world and people surrounding us can be changed.