A 30-year study on 1,200 Israelis shows that optimism might extend lifespan. The study kicked off in the 1990s and followed people who were born in 1920 or 1921, analyzing their health, anxiety, function, social skills, economic well-being, integrity, and optimism. It also held one-on-one interviews to take stock of other physical, mental, emotional, and social factors.
The study found that elderly people between 85-90 with a high score on optimism had a 20% higher life expectancy rate than those who were less optimistic. For those over 90, the rate was 25% higher. The good news is that optimism is a learned skill. For those who make the choice, it can become easier to see the glass half full, even later on in life.
The study was led by Hebrew University’s Director of the Institute of Aging, Professor Jochanan Stessman, along with Professor Jeremy Jacobs and Dr. Yoram Maaravi. Maaravi says that “Our findings indicate that optimism has an impact on survival, whereas other studies have shown that it improves health-related functions, such as our immune systems, reducing risk factors for high blood pressure and cardiac issues, and maybe even cancer.”