A Positive Mood and Emotional Balance May Add Years To Your Life

It pays to be positive, and not just because it feels more pleasant to have a happy, upbeat attitude. Harvard researchers say that a maintaining a positive mood and staying emotionally balanced actually adds years to your life by increasing your long-term health.

Attitude Linked to Cardiac Health

If your positive mood starts early in life, it gives you some big long-term benefits. According to Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor of society, human development, and health at the Harvard School of Public Health, research shows that children who had a positive outlook at age seven had better health 30 years down the road. They suffered from fewer illnesses when they reached adulthood. Kubzansky also reports that a sense of optimism slashes the risk of coronary disease by 50 percent.

Another study that followed 6,000 men and women for 20 years showed that those who were enthusiastic, hopeful, and full of emotional vitality had a lower heart disease risk. Those with emotional balance had healthier hearts, even when researchers took other factors like smoking and frequency of exercise into account. This aligns with research at Johns Hopkins that showed positive people have one-third less heart attacks and other cardiac events than family members who don’t share their upbeat attitudes.

Old Studies Support New Research

This recent research jibes with older studies. For example, a 1979 study co-authored by Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, showed that people with strong social ties were less likely to die during a nine-year follow-up period. The more resilient people were close with their spouses, friends, and relatives and had ties to supportive organizations like churches.

Although you can’t turn off the negative things in your life, you’ll help yourself by staying positive and finding things about which to remain enthusiastic. If you need a little push toward a positive outlook, check out this WebPsychology article on how gratitude helps support happiness.

It’s impossible to be happy 100 percent of the time, but you’ll be more positive and emotionally balanced if you prioritize happiness in your life. Scheduling activities that make you happy and reflecting on the positive in your life keep you in a good frame of mind. Keep that positive attitude and push your risk of heart disease down and your life expectancy up.