The question of whether or not positive thinking can really help people live longer was once just a theory. In recent years, however, studies have proven that feelings of positivity really can affect our lives, increasing longevity and making us feel happier, as well. Here are just a few ways in which we can use positive thinking to change and extend our lives.

1. Friendship Is Important

According to recent studies, people with more human connections (relatives, friends, spouses) tend to live longer than those who lose touch with the people in their lives. That’s because interpersonal bonds reinforce positive feelings and make people happier. This, in turn, makes them more appealing to others, creating even more long-lasting friendships.

2. Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine

One part of maintaining a positive outlook on life is to indulge a sense of humor. Researchers have found that vital muscle groups are exercised, when we laugh and, just as importantly, our stress levels are reduced by a good chuckle. Stress causes internal inflammation, speeding up the aging process, as well as contributing to a host of physical problems. People who love life and laugh regularly live longer, because that stress and inflammation is reduced.
Another study looked at people who appreciate the good things in their lives versus those who feel hassled by negativity. The research showed that people who counted their blessings were 25% happier than those who focused on the negative aspects of their lives.

3. A Positive Attitude Is Good For The Body And The Spirit

When people take a more optimistic approach to life, looking for the positive in their day to day routines, they tend to feel more energetic. As a result, these people exercise routinely and live more active lives. Physical activity has been shown to reduce the symptoms of some diseases and stave off the development of other illnesses.
Additionally, regular exercise helps reduce stress and, as previously mentioned, our stress levels can have a direct influence on how quickly we age. Doctors have long advised exercise and a healthy diet to avoid disease and early death, but we now are discovering that healthy lifestyles also can keep us looking and feeling young.

4. Thoughts About Aging Affect Aging

A recent study revealed that how we think about aging can affect how long we live. In looking at the perceptions of 660 people, researchers found that those with positive opinions about getting older lived more than seven years longer than those who feared or thought negatively about the aging process.
It’s not just thoughts that affect how long we live, either. Acting young and staying interested in activities also plays a part in how quickly we age. If we convince ourselves that we’re old, our bodies will respond accordingly.

5. A Smile Extends Life

A person who smiles often can extend his or her life for several years, according to some studies. Those who smile regularly tend to live past 80, while those who don’t smile frequently tend to die younger. In fact, there is now a trend called “laughter yoga,” which is designed to help people exercise the muscles primarily used in smiling and laughter. The subject takes a deep breath, as in meditation, but, upon exhale, he or she laughs. It will be a forced laugh in the beginning, but, as the individual practices, he or she will laugh more naturally.

While this area of research is just beginning to gain some headway, it seems clear that keeping a positive attitude does have its perks. In addition to bolstering happiness, maintaining a positive outlook can help us live longer and age slower.

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