How positivity added a decade to life-spans

Nuns who wrote the most positive statements lived a full ten years longer than those who wrote more neutrally.
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In 2001 researchers at the University of Kentucky conducted a fascinating study focused on over 600 nuns.

The decision to look at nuns was made because they formed a remarkably homogeneous group of women, whose physical backgrounds and conditions were about as alike as possible. For instance they had similar diets, lived together in similar surroundings, did not have children, and also did not smoke or drink to excess.

The research began by analysing brief autobiographical statements these nuns had written when they joined their convents in the 1930s and 1940s. Their writing was rated for its positive or negative content.

For example, one Sister showed low positive emotion by writing “With God’s grace, I intend to do my best for our Order, for the spread of religion and for my personal sanctification.” On the other hand, another Sister demonstrated high positive emotion, declaring “Now I look forward with eager joy to receiving the Holy Habit of Our Lady and to a life of union with Love Divine.”

By the time the analysis was done, the nuns were between 75 and 94 years old. In fact 42 per cent had already died.

Among other things, the researchers were curious to know whether there might be an association between positive mindset and longevity, and these results were truly incredible. Nuns who had expressed the highest levels of positivity sixty years previously lived, on average, a full decade longer than those with much lower levels.

High positive emotion was also strongly associated with considerably lower levels of Alzheimer’s disease.

Now you may not be a nun, but it seems to me that we can all learn from this remarkable study which suggests that taking a positive approach to life can have the most profound physiological effects.

Act positively, live longer.

Pretty powerful stuff, I think you’ll agree.

2 thoughts on “How positivity added a decade to life-spans

  1. Truly remarkable and life enhancing to read your post this morning. It reminded me of a story I heard long ago which goes something like this:
    “When asking how to cope with depression one answer was ‘I look at this way. It is as though there are two dogs inside me, one good, one bad and they are always fighting each other.’ ‘Which dog wins’ was the next question and the reply was ‘it depends which one I feed the most’.”
    With best wishes, KT

  2. This is very interesting but doesn’t surprise me as research also shows cancer patients with a positive attitude have better outcomes. A good reminder for us all – especially on days it seems hard to do

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