Positive Thinking the Key to a Longer Life?

The short answer is, yes, of course! Research has already tied positive thinking with more positive surgical outcomes, so it’s not such a leap to imagine that thinking positively in general could also more generally help us out in life.

Of course the challenge is how to keep a positive attitude when so many of us are dealing with very unhappy or bad things happening to us. There’s no easy answer to that one.

A growing mountain of evidence suggests that an upbeat, positive attitude could be the key to a long life. Some of the best scientific proof comes from the world of religion.

At the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary in New York, there can be an 80-year divide between the sisters who teach and the children in their classes. The age difference hardly matters. Many of the nuns are aging remarkably well, and doctors wonder if it’s a matter of personality.

“I realize it is not how long you live but how intensely you live, in terms of appreciating your life and living life to the fullest,” said Sister Loretta Theresa Richards.

Richards is 76, and doctors say her sense of purpose may be helping to keep her healthy. Studies show people who are busy, optimistic and have networks of friends tend to live longer. Involvement is good, not tiring.

“It does not wear you out,” said Dr. David Bennett, director of the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago. “It seems to keep everything working.”