Brain Health Healthy Aging Embrace Aging With Positive Thinking By Mark Stibich, PhD Mark Stibich, PhD Mark Stibich, PhD, FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 04, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Steven Gans, MD Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print alvarez / Getty Images There are many benefits of positive thinking, including stress reduction, improved immunity, and a lower risk for heart disease. But did you know that keeping a positive outlook can help you live longer, too? Here's what research says about optimism and aging, and what you can do to reap the rewards. Add Years to Your Life Studies show that how you perceive aging and your life as a whole affects longevity. A 2019 study found that positive thinking can result in an 11–15% longer lifespan and a stronger likelihood of living to age 85 or older. This effect remained after other factors such as age, gender, income, depression, and health status were controlled. Look Forward to Aging Research on the topic has found that people who have a positive outlook on aging while they are young, rather than dreading growing old, have a greater chance of living longer. That's because adjusting your opinion on aging while you're still young can build a positive perspective that can have a tremendous effect on your life expectancy. Press Play for Advice On Healthy Aging Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring actress, model, and bestselling author Brooke Shields, shares how to embrace getting older with a positive mindset. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Improve Resiliency Findings suggest that positive thinking about aging can increase a person's will to live, making them more resilient to illness and more proactive about health. Those with a positive outlook are also likely to experience less stress, reducing their likelihood of developing chronic diseases or disorders. Find Insight as You Age Our society tends to prize youth and beauty, while messages about aging tend to emphasize the negative aspects. But, like fine wine, people should get better as they age. Experience, combined with maturity, gives older people great insight. They're often more in touch spiritually and they prioritize depth in their life. By following a simple, healthy lifestyle you can preserve your health and energy through life. Other Markers of Healthy Aging In addition to positive thinking, there are lifestyle factors that can add years to your life, including exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutrient-dense diet, consuming only moderate amounts of alcohol (if any), and not smoking, all of which can help extend lifespan by 12–14 years. While studies point to living longer, they don't often discuss the improved quality of life that comes with it. But as the field of positive psychology is exploring, beyond increased lifespan, positive thoughts and emotions can contribute tremendously to happiness so you can enjoy a richer, more satisfying life. How to Embrace Positive Thinking Like meditation, yoga, or any self-care ritual, staying positive is a practice. Fortunately, the tools required are free and can be done on your own at your pace. Here are a few ways to consciously cultivate positive thinking in your daily life: Keep a gratitude journal: No matter the format you choose—brief lists in your phone or longer entries written in a notebook—a gratitude journal can be a powerful way to connect to your emotions and relieve stress. The subject matter can vary, but the key is consistency. Maintaining a regular practice will help develop a new way of thinking so you can easily identify and stop negative thoughts when they arise. Repeat positive affirmations: If you say something enough times, you're more likely to believe it. That's the idea behind positive affirmations, statements with intention repeated numerous times to make them a part of your thinking, such as "I am feeling more peaceful each day" or "I can handle whatever comes my way." It's important to keep these affirmations rooted in reality. Your subconscious may flag far-fetched statements, putting you back in a negative state of mind. Practice loving-kindness meditation: Studies have shown that loving-kindness meditation can significantly increase a positive attitude. While there are variations to the practice, the common theme is focusing on positive phrases that evoke self-compassion as well as empathy for others, using statements like, "May I be happy" and "May you be safe." Spend time with other positive thinkers: The saying goes, "You are the company you keep." So it makes sense that when you associate with other optimists, you tend to feel uplifted, happy, and supported. Take note of your emotions when you're around friends and family. You may need to establish boundaries with those who bring your positive energy down. A Word From Verywell Keep in mind that positivity is a choice—and not always an easy one. Life's obstacles can sometimes make it difficult to maintain a sunny perspective, and you may have days when you don't have any positivity in you. But with practice, you can build a foundation that helps you shift negative thoughts and start noticing the benefits to your physical, mental, and emotional health. How to Think Like an Optimist 1 Source Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Li Y, Pan A, Wang D et al. Impact of healthy lifestyle factors on life expectancies in the US population. Circulation. 2018;138(4):345-355. doi:10.1161/circulationaha.117.032047 Additional Reading Belenguer-Varea Á, Tarazona-Santabalbina F, Avellana-Zaragoza J, Inglés M, Mas-Bargues C, Martínez-Reig M. Oxidative stress and exceptional human longevity: systematic review. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2019.09.019. Chopik W, Bremner R, Johnson D, Giasson H. Age differences in age perceptions and developmental transitions. Front Psychol. 2018;9. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00067. Hofmann SG, Grossman P, Hinton DE. Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: potential for psychological interventions. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011;31(7):1126-32. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.003. Ingrand I, Paccalin M, Liuu E, Gil R, Ingrand P. Positive perception of aging is a key predictor of quality-of-life in aging people. PLoS ONE. 2018;13(10):e0204044. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0204044. Lee L, James P, Zevon E et al. Optimism is associated with exceptional longevity in 2 epidemiologic cohorts of men and women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019;116(37):18357-18362. doi:10.1073/pnas.1900712116. Zeng Y, Shen K. Resilience significantly contributes to exceptional longevity. Curr Gerontol Geriatr Res. 2010;2010:1-9. doi:10.1155/2010/525693. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.