Do you feel optimistic or positive about the future? Do you always look on the bright side of life? If so, you’re not just improving your quality of life, you could be improving your health too.
Research by the University of Queensland has found some delightful evidence to suggest that a positive attitude can improve your immune system and help you live longer.
The research, published in Psychology and Aging, has found that older people who focused on positive information were more likely to have stronger immune systems. No longer do we need to be begged to put a smile on our dial for someone else’s benefit, we can now know how integral just being positive can be to our overall wellbeing.
Even better news is that UQ’s School of Psychology lead researcher Dr Elise Kalokerinos declared, “Despite the fact that people often think of late life as a period of doom and gloom, older people are often more positive than younger people”. It’s amazing that even when we face adversity as we grow older, we’re not letting it slow us down – it really shows that over 60s are active and alive (just as we thought at Starts at 60!).
Things that can make you happy as you get older are the simple things as you no doubt have life experience and can appreciate what you have, unlike when you were in your 20s and 30s. Of course it can be hard to always be smiling and taking everything in your stride, but if it meant better health, wouldn’t you make more of a concerted effort? It really is as easy as opting for positive over the negative.
And, as our health declines, keeping a positive attitude can help us to protect ourselves, Dr Kalokerinos added.
50 adults aged 65-90 were studied over two years and showed improvement in positivity and immunity by being shown positive and negative photos. Later on they were asked to recall the images and a blood test was used to gauge their immune function – those who remembered more positive than negative images showed better immune functioning.
“Participants who recalled more positive than negative images had antibodies in their blood suggesting stronger immune systems”, she said.
By selectively remembering the positive, older adults seem to boost their immune functioning just when they need it the most.
This research shows that positivity has a range of health benefits including stress relief, creation of long-term goals and more social interactions, and who could deny that?
Do you think these findings are correct? Do you think we’ve evolved to become more positive so we can live longer? Tell us how you stay positive!