It turns out that all that psychological talk about positive thinking holding great power isn’t just a myth. A new study revealed that elders attribute a positive mindset to a long life.
Every year the UnitedHealthcare (UHC) surveys 100 people over the age of 100 to ask them about their beliefs and opinions on health, longevity, family and general happiness.
During this year’s 10th annual 100@100 survey 1 in 4 centenarians said that a positive outlook is the most important element in having a long, healthy life, making it the most popular opinion among the participants. Additionally, more than 6 in 10 centenarians see themselves as positive people.
The second most popular thing participants credited for their old age was a healthy diet (21% of participants), followed by getting regular exercise (10% of participants) and keeping busy by walking or hiking (46% of participants), or by meditating and spending time with their loved ones.
97% of centenarians give close connections with family great importance, even connections with long distance family and friends, with 83% of them saying that “they speak with extended family on a daily or weekly basis” and that it helps them keep a positive attitude.
Smiling and having a sense of humor are other important elements for 84% of centenarians.
The mental state of the participants is not to be overlooked as the results show they strongly believe feeling youthful is highly important. More than half (52%) of the centenarians who were interviewed for the survey said that their sense of optimism is reinforced by feeling 20 years younger than they actually are, while a majority of 60% said they don’t feel old at all.
Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions gave a statement saying “Year after year, we hear from centenarians that there is a correlation between healthy aging and a healthy mindset. […] It’s a good reminder for us all to take care of our mental, emotional and social health – in addition to our physical health”.
S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D., a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois,has a counterargument however, telling CBS News that “How you feel is a reflection of how your body is operating. […] People who look younger and feel younger have probably aged more slowly”. He believes the phenomenon has more to do with genetics than a positive attitude.
Looking back on their lives, most centenarians agreed that they felt the most attractive at age 31, the healthiest at 46 and the wisest at 49. The few centenarians who did feel old said that they started feeling that way (on average) at about age 87.
On the pop culture front, 63% of participants said that Betty White was the most desirable dinner guest, a third of them said that they consider their mother their biggest childhood role model, only 1% of them said that they have taken a selfie, and the survey showed that 43% of centenarians don’t even know what a selfie is.
Image Source: caringfortheaging.org