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Optimists live longer

Having a bit of optimism is generally helpful in coping with life’s challenges. We are all hit by adversity sooner or later, but optimists are generally better at dealing with and working through difficult times. In fact, an optimistic approach to life may even mean extra years of life.

Researchers from an American university concluded in 2019 from a study of more than 50,000 participants that optimists, on average, live longer than others. A certain degree of extra optimism in the right context is normal and is often an advantage to doing well in life.

It is most likely not the positive thinking in itself that contributes to a longer life, but rather the positive side effects.

For example: When babies have to learn to walk and repeatedly fall over, the innate optimism is a crucial partner for it to succeed anyway. Parents’ encouragement to be optimistic is of course also crucial.

Optimists often underestimate the complexity of projects they get involved with.  Like taking an education, renovating an old house or starting up a business. But with optimism, it often succeeds anyway, and the long-term gains are great.

At the same time, optimism often appears together with personality traits of extroversion and openness. Both create good conditions for a healthy life and a strong social network. A good network provides practical and emotional support, which in turn can help to counteract mental and physical illness.

Experts tell us that optimism lies, in part, in the genes. Some are more optimistic than others. When it comes to our personality traits, about 50% is determined by genes, while the other 50% is attributed to the environment we grew up in and move around in.

During the next several months as we get used to the ‘new normal ‘and restrictions, we all need to try to put a bit of optimism into our life and make use of the many new communication tools we have available to us, keeping in touch with family, friends, neighbors and community. This way we can at least try to mitigate and counteract some of the mental and physical toll this pandemic is having on so many.

Stay safe.

Study: Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women (

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