Let’s do the math!
The results are in and even if you’re not very good at math, this equation is easy to understand. Happiness + a positive attitude = a longer life! A variety of ongoing research studies confirm that those with a happier and more positive attitude – not just toward aging but to life in general – tend to live happier, longer lives. Intuitively this just makes sense but let’s talk about the facts.
Together with research and by examining a large body of existing studies, researchers at Harvard University found these are some of the factors that contribute to one’s ability to foster and maintain happiness. They include:
- Emotional Vitality – This has to do with a person’s overall sense of enthusiasm for the world, their level of engagement and a sense of being hopeful.
- A Sense of Optimism – this is having “the perspective that good things will happen and that one’s actions account for the good things in life.”
- The “Bounce-Back” Factor – we’re coining this term because it reminds us of a rubber ball that once started, continues to bounce for a very, very long time. Visually, if you think about a rubber ball, no matter how hard you throw it against the wall, it “keeps on bouncing!” In scientific terms, what the researchers found is that people who have a strong sense of “self-regulation” are better able to rebound from stressful, life-changing events.
How to foster that Positive Attitude….
If emotional vitality requires engagement and enthusiasm, what can you do on a personal level to help improve your emotional vitality?
- Consider getting involved with a seniors organization or volunteering in your community.
- If you love to play cards, post a notice in your building or local library to see if there is anyone else interested in forming a card group.
- Check online for resources in local parks and recreation centres that might already have programs and events specifically catering to seniors.
- If meeting new people is a challenge for you, set a realistic goal that’s easily attainable like going for a walk and saying hello to one new person each day.
- If you already have a large circle of friends but find yourself saying “No” to things because you’re tired or not feeling your best – challenge yourself to say “Yes” instead to one new activity this week. Make a mental note about how you felt getting up and getting out or better yet, consider starting a gratitude journal and recording only the highlights of your day.
- A sense of optimism can grow from journaling which has long been associated with having an overall positive impact on mental health.
- Increasing your bounce-back factor has to do with self-regulation which suggests that you choose healthier alternatives to coping with life-changing events; activities like exercise and eating well, staying active and involved with friends and family and avoiding the temptation to resort to binge eating, isolating oneself or excessive alcohol consumption.
Fostering a happier, more optimistic attitude will, generally speaking, provide you with a greater ability to cope with whatever life throws your way. The challenge is to figure out what works best for you. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try your hand at painting a beautiful piece of art? Now is the time to embrace the opportunity. Maybe learning a musical instrument wasn’t on your radar in your younger years but now, with retirement fast approaching or if you are already enjoying leisure time, you have the time to make music. The point is, at this point in your life what’s stopping you? If it’s your attitude it might be time to change it. Happiness + A Positive Attitude = A Longer Life and you might as well do what makes that longer life enjoyable!
Written by Sheralyn Roman