Why Do Happy People Live Longer?

The bond between happiness and longevity has long captivated researchers. Why do happy people live longer? This question has long driven scientists and psychologists, prompting numerous studies into how emotional well-being affects physical health. Researchers say happy people live 35% longer than those who aren’t.

While the connection might seem obvious, the reasons behind it are intricate and still being uncovered. Understanding this link not only reveals the secrets to a longer life but also highlights the vital role of prioritizing mental and emotional wellness in our everyday routines.

Good genes do play an important part, but good lifestyle habits have a large influence on happiness and longevity as well. The rider in the back seat above is 99-years-young!

Why Do Happy People Live Longer: Exploring Habits and Traits That Foster Happiness with Age

As we journey through life, our pursuit of happiness takes on different forms and meanings.

While youth often associates happiness with external achievements and material gains, the perspective shifts with age. This leads many to seek contentment in simpler pleasures and inner fulfillment.

But what exactly contributes to this shift, and why do happy people seem to live longer? In this article, we delve into the habits, behaviors, and traits that explain why some individuals become happier and more content as they age.

The Connection Between Happiness and Longevity

Research consistently highlights the profound impact of happiness on overall health and longevity. Studies have shown that happier individuals tend to exhibit lower levels of stress, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and enhanced immune function. This all contributes to a longer lifespan.

But what sets happy individuals apart, and how do they cultivate and sustain their happiness over time?

1-Gratitude Practice

One of the cornerstone habits of happy individuals is their commitment to gratitude. Gratitude reduces many toxic emotions. It increases happiness and reduces depression.

According to Whitney Rehabilitation Center, research shows that grateful people are healthier.

They display:

  • 16% fewer physical symptoms
  • 10% less physical pain
  • 25% increased sleep quality

As people age, they often develop a deeper appreciation for life’s blessings, recognizing the value of both big milestones and small everyday joys.

By practicing gratitude regularly, whether through journaling, reflection, or simply expressing thanks, older adults cultivate a positive outlook that fosters happiness and contentment.

2-Emotional Resilience

With age comes wisdom and resilience. This allows individuals to navigate life’s ups and downs with grace and perspective.

Happy older adults often exhibit a remarkable ability to bounce back from setbacks and challenges. They view challenges with a more positive outlook. They see them as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable obstacles.

Resilience is one of the pillars of successful aging. “Resilience” is defined as the ability to bounce back after a stressful encounter or adversity in life. Emotional resilience not only enhances your well-being but also contributes to your overall longevity.

3-Prioritize Relationships

Meaningful connections with family and friends play a pivotal role in shaping happiness and well-being as we age.

Older adults tend to place a greater emphasis on nurturing relationships, investing time and effort in fostering bonds that bring joy and fulfillment.

By surrounding themselves with supportive social networks, happy individuals cultivate a sense of belonging and purpose that enhances their quality of life and extends their years and contributes to their overall happiness.

According to Forbes, “Participants… didn’t just let things happen. They made plans with friends, reached out to people, and joined community and social groups. They intentionally nurtured their in-person social connections.”

4-Strive for Excellence – Not Perfection

As people age, they often learn to let go of unrealistic expectations and embrace imperfection. Making and admitting mistakes is a necessary part of growing and learning.

Working hard, being committed, and diligent are all desirable features. However, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo says he “strives for excellence, not perfection… I like to feel that things are done well.”

Happy older adults understand that life is not about striving for perfection but rather embracing the beauty of self-compassion and they avoid negative self-talk.

By releasing the pressure to measure up to unattainable standards, they free themselves to experience greater joy and contentment in the present moment.

5-Engage in Leisure Activities

Many older individuals find joy in pursuing hobbies, interests, and leisure activities.

Whether it’s gardening, painting, playing music, or exploring nature. Engaging in activities that bring pleasure and fulfillment provides a sense of purpose that enriches their lives.

These pursuits foster a sense of purpose and fulfillment that contributes to their overall well-being.

One woman I know who is in her 80s seems always ready to try a new adventure. Her son has a gyrocopter. (It might be described as a variation of a helicopter.) She was excited to take a ride with her son in his own gyrocopter! Below you can see a picture of her and her two sons.

Why Do Happy People Live Longer - gyrocopter ride

Her 99-year-old aunt enjoyed a ride as well, as you can see in the postcard below.

99-yr-old-and a gyrocopter ride

6-Live in the Present Moment

Older adults often develop a deeper appreciation for the present moment. Mindfulness practices become increasingly important as people age, allowing them to savor the richness of the present moment.

They cultivate inner peace and tranquility. Happy older adults find joys in simple pleasures. They embrace techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindful awareness.

In doing this they reduce stress, enhance self-awareness, and foster a deeper connection with themselves and the world around them. It helps them find joy in simple pleasures and mindfulness practices.

7-Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Taking care of physical health is paramount for happiness and longevity in older adults.

Regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep are essential components of a healthy lifestyle that supports overall well-being. Keeping regular contact with their healthcare practitioners can keep small problems from becoming larger ones.

By prioritizing self-care and making conscious choices to nurture your body, happy individuals enjoy greater vitality and energy to fully engage in life’s pleasures and pursuits.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by adopting habits such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep can significantly impact mood and overall well-being as people age.

Do Thin People Live Longer?

The question of whether thin people live longer has been a topic of debate in some scientific and health circles.

While some studies suggest that maintaining a lower body weight is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Other research has challenged this notion, emphasizing the importance of overall health and lifestyle factors over body weight alone.

Factors such as diet quality, exercise habits, metabolic health, and genetics all play significant roles in determining longevity. This complicates the relationship between body weight and lifespan.

What Is a Healthy Weight?

Additionally, the concept of “healthy weight” varies widely among individuals, making it essential to consider individual differences and overall well-being rather than focusing solely on weight. Ultimately, while maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health, it’s just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to living a long and fulfilling life.

8-Cultivate a Sense of Humor

Humor becomes a cherished companion on the journey through aging. It offers a lighthearted perspective and a reason for laughter in the face of adversity.

Happy older adults maintain a playful and humorous outlook on life, finding joy in the absurdities and ironies of everyday existence.

By embracing laughter and levity, they not only alleviate stress but also foster deeper connections with others.

Laughter enhances the overall quality of your life.

It becomes a valuable coping mechanism for many older people. So, even in difficult circumstances, it becomes a way to deal with difficult situations.

9-Practicing Forgiveness

Everyone has been hurt along the way.

Letting go of resentment and practicing forgiveness is essential for emotional well-being and happiness as we age.

Holding onto grudges and negative emotions only serves to weigh you down. It hinders your ability to experience true peace and contentment.

By releasing the past and embracing forgiveness, happy individuals free themselves from unnecessary burdens. They open their hearts to greater love, compassion, and joy.

10-A Sense of Purpose

Japan is home to some of the world’s longest-living people. According to a 2022 report by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, there are 90,526 centenarians in that country. (Those aged 100 and above.)

The Japanese have a word for a “sense of purpose”.

Ikigai is a Japanese term that blends two words together. “Iki” means “to live” and “Gai” means “reason”. Put that together and you have “a reason to live”. It is a concept that compels people to get out of bed in the morning and discover a life of meaning, purpose, and joy.

The Five Pillars of Ikigai are:

  1. Starting small.
  2. Releasing yourself.
  3. Harmony and sustainability.
  4. The joy of little things.
  5. Being in the here and now.

Another way to look at it is:

  1. What you love. – Your passion.
  2. What the world needs. – Your mission.
  3. What you are good at. – Your vocation.
  4. What you can get paid for. – Your profession.

The concept of Ikigai is unique to every individual. And while it may take a while for you to discover, it can ultimately bring you great rewards.

The World’s Oldest Practicing Doctor

According to the Guinness World Record, Dr. Howard Tucker is the oldest living practicing doctor According to him, “I think that to retire, one can face potential shriveling up and ending in a nursing home. It’s fun staying alive and working” he said.

11-Continue to Learn and Grow

Finally, lifelong learning and personal development contribute to a sense of fulfillment and purpose in life. Continued learning and personal development keep you mentally stimulated and engaged. These are hallmarks of happiness and fulfillment in older adults.

Whether it’s pursuing new interests, acquiring new skills, or seeking out opportunities for self-improvement, happy individuals remain curious and engaged in the world around them.

By embracing the journey of lifelong learning, they nourish their minds, expand their horizons, and enrich their lives with new experiences and discoveries.

One Man’s Journey of Fitness

As one man said, “Exercise is so important for all of us, especially as we get older.

I’m just 14 months off my 80th birthday and I lift weights 3 times a week and walk and bike ride most days as well.

I weigh the same as I did when I was an 18-year-old athlete.

You need good motivation to make a start, but I find that in the end, it’s habit that keeps you going.

Develop good habits and you’ll keep them for life!”


 

 


 

Why Do Happy People Live Longer?

From bolstering immune function to fostering healthier lifestyle choices, happiness seems to wield a powerful influence over our physical health.

“Why do happy people live longer?” It is multifaceted, with numerous habits, behaviors, and traits contributing to the profound connection between happiness and longevity.

By cultivating gratitude, resilience, and meaningful relationships, embracing excellence, and prioritizing self-care, a sense of purpose, and personal growth, older adults can nurture happiness and well-being that extends far into their golden years.

As we continue to explore the secrets of happiness and longevity, let us draw inspiration from the wisdom and joy of those who have mastered the art of living well.


The Beatitudes – wall hanging

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Two Books You May Enjoy

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity – Hardcover

By Peter Attia MD and Bill Gifford

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How Not to Age: The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older – Hardcover

By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM

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Disclaimer: If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. No content on this site should be substituted for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner. The information contained here is for informational purposes only. It is from my research and personal experience.


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