What is the secret to a long life? According to previous studies, one key is in our genes. Apparently, there are just some people who are predisposed to reach the age of 100, possessing genes that have advantageous qualities such as high levels of good cholesterol. A new study published in the journal Aging, however, has found that personality may also play an important role in living a longer life. If you’re optimistic and outgoing and you haven’t lost your sense of humor at age 60, then you have a better chance at becoming a centenarian than your peers.
Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University studied 243 centenarians with an average age of 97.6 years, focusing on genetically-based personality characteristics. They used a brief measure of personality (the Personality Outlook Profile Scale or POPS) on centenarians and learned that they were more positive about life and were less likely to be neurotic.
The researchers considered the results unexpected. "When I started working with centenarians, I thought we'd find that they survived so long in part because they were mean and ornery," says Nir Barzilai, MD, director of Einstein's Institute for Aging Research and co-corresponding author of the study. "But when we assessed the personalities of these 243 centenarians, we found qualities that clearly reflect a positive attitude towards life. Most were outgoing, optimistic, and easygoing. They considered laughter an important part of life and had a large social network. They expressed emotions openly rather than bottling them up."
If you want to live a longer life, then start by making a few changes to your personality. Try to enjoy life as best as you can. Give old grudges a rest, and start making amends with people you may have collided with in the past. Learn to laugh more, and think positive thoughts. This way, you’re not only changing your life for the better, you’re also encouraging others to do the same.
(Photo by Tyrone Huang via Flickr Creative Commons)