Longevity is something we all desire. So, it makes sense that we’re always interested in new science (and old wisdom) on how folks are able to live healthy, active lives that span 100 years or more.
While the secret to eternal youth remains largely a mystery, some common characteristics of super seniors might offer clues for living longer and stronger. What’s more – you may already be doing these things.
New science reveals that three key traits foster longevity – being adaptable, resilient, and (wait for it) stubborn.
A study recently published in International Psychogeriatrics reported that people who live to age 100 usually possess these three traits, and they do so unabashedly.
Here’s how the study worked: Researchers took a look at the lives of almost 30 senior residents from Italy’s Cilento region, as reported by Time. This area is home to a large number of seniors. To collect data on what exactly keeps these folks ticking, the scientists interviewed elder residents and members of their families.
As it turns out, our attitudes determine quite a lot about how long (and how well) we will live. Sure, we already know that a positive disposition and sunny outlook on life are great factors to happiness. But does that mindset impact longevity? The research says, yes – our attitudes play a key role in helping us continue to thrive in our advanced years.
All of the surveyed families reported that their senior members were highly adaptable, which researchers believe helps them balance outwardly conflicting personality traits, like positivity and stubbornness. The older residents were also reported as being resilient and headstrong, able to bounce back from disappointments and resolve interpersonal conflict quickly. Other traits of these 90-to-100-somethings included close bonds to family, country and religion, and a strong work ethic.
While most of the seniors’ physical health had declined with age, their mental acuity was still high. They were all sharp as tacks. And guess what? These seniors demonstrated greater self-confidence and decision-making skills than their younger family members.
“These people have been through depressions, they’ve been through migrations, they’ve lost loved ones,” said the author of the study and associate dean at the Center of Healthy Aging at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Dr. Dilip Jeste. “In order to flourish, they have to be able to accept and recover from the things they can’t change, but also fight for the things they can.”
Dr. Jeste went on to say, “Things like happiness and satisfaction with life went up, and levels of depression and stress went down. It’s the opposite of what we might expect when we think about aging, but it shows that getting older is not all gloom and doom.”
We all know there’s no surefire path to a long, healthy life. But these findings do show the importance of positive attitude, self-esteem and other personality traits.
If you’re interested in reading more about longevity and the components that make for healthy, vibrant aging, read about the Blue Zones. I’ve written extensively about my reaction to this research, and it’s a great supplement to the study we’ve talked about here. But if you’re too stubborn to click the link, then you may already be on the right track.