Healthier and longer life
Many centuries, across different cultures people have been looking for a way to make our lives healthier and longer. Well, modern medicine has partially succeeded in this by helping to prolong our lives to a limited extent. But what about the quality of life? How to make it not only longer, but also healthier and therefore happier. Can hapiness, in turn, make our lives longer?
Today I would like to discuss briefly an interesting study by Deborah Danner, David Snowdon and Wallace Friesen (2001). Below is a table briefly describing the essence of the study:
|Objective||To find out how positive emotions influence longivity of life and health.|
|Subject||Presence/absence of positive emotion words and sentences.|
|Method||Linguistic (semantic) analysis.|
|Variables||Independent: 180 autobiographies; occupation (nuns); sex; age.
Dependent: the quantity of semantic units expressing positive, neutral, and negative emotions; longevity of life.
|Result||The nuns in the autobiographies of whom there were found most of semantic units expressing positive emotions lived by 10 years longer (!) than those in whose autobiographies there were the least number of semantic units expressing positive emotions.|
|Significance of the study||This study incorporated 180 samples, managed to exclude a lot of factors (such as bad habits, food, exercising, occupation, etc.) and looked at a considerable period of time (60 – 70 years). In this sense, this research looking at the longivity of life and positive emotions is unique in its way.|
In summary, this study showed that nuns writing more positive autobiographies in young adulthood lived longer than nuns writing less positive autobiographies.
This study answers an important question: do positive emotions affect the longuivity of our lives? The answer is a firm “yes”. However, it also raises two other important questions: 1) does our attitude to the things that happen around can make us happier? and 2) how to make ourselves truly happier?
Danner, D.D., Snowdon, D.A., & Friesen, W.V. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 804–813.