How New Scientific Research Adds to Your Health And Longevity

If you are like me about wild medical claims, you are a skeptic and contrarian and believe
almost no authority or expert without proof. Sure there are breakthroughs, but the drug companies are the last one to believe. But then again there are exceptions to even the best rules.

But what about stuff that sounds like good old common sense? Al Einstein said, “Common sense is just conventional wisdom with the prejudices we learned up to age 18.” So who do you believe?

The Journal of Applied Psychology, March 1, 2011

This article by lead author, Professor Ed Diener, University of Illinois, reviews one-hundred and sixty (160) separate scientific studies about the effect of happiness on our health and longevity. Wait, are the scientists implying just being generally delighted with your life is a great strategy?

It appears that positive, happy folks absolutely have less diseases and live longer than
pessimistic people. Again, they straight-out have a longer lifespan.

Example: one study followed 5,000 students at the University of Illinois for more than forty-years.
They were annually tested for their attitudes, moods and states of mind. The students were classified as Positive, Negative or Moderate minded.

Get this: those who tested as stressed-out, depressed, and pessimistic about their lives, tended to get more diseases, and die younger than their peers. Makes sense, but it is more because it has evidence to back up these claims.

Tested What

People evaluate their lives based on personal relationships and their career. If you are dissatisfied with your life-partner, cannot handle your finances, and hate going to work every morning, it is very easy to be depressed and pessimistic. Nothing happens in a vacuum, and your unhappiness
(stress and distress) has major consequences for your life and health.

Subjective Well-Being

The scientists concluded with this cliché sounding comment: “Feeling positive about your life, not
stressed-out, not depressed, contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations.”

In a long-term study of 678 Nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Dr. David Snowdon concluded: “those who wrote positive autobiographies in their 20s, tended to outlive those who wrote more negative life stories (accounts) of their present and future lives.”
More: those who used their brains daily to read, learn, teach, and play mental games, lived the longest and most satisfactory lives. Life-style accounts for health, longevity, and avoidance of Alzheimer’s, and other diseases of the mind and body.

If you suffer daily bouts of anxiety, depression, a lack of enjoyment of daily activities, and pessimism, you can expect to have a higher rate of disease and a shorter lifespan.

Animal Studies

Stress is not just a human experience. When you place too many animals in the same space (cages), poor health and even death follows. Stressed animals are more susceptible to heart disease, have weaker immune systems, and tend to die earlier than those with more space to roam.


The term stress was coined by Canadian endocrinologist Hans Selye, in 1936 at McGill University in
Montreal. He was the first scientist to see stress as biological. He described stress as affecting cognition (thinking and learning), emotions, and our physical and behavioral patterns. He said stress (distress) was involved in poor judgment, excessive worry, moodiness, and produces aches and pains.


Stress produces a hormone called cortisol. It is produced by the adrenal gland, increases blood sugar suppresses the immune system, and decreases bone formation. Professor Selye discovered that there
Is a positive form of stress he called EUSTRESS. It produces a low level of excitement that permits us to be creative and do our best work. It is DISTRESS that is the negative force in our lives.

A positive mood overcomes stress and reduces the production of cortisol.


The researchers evaluated the 160 studies on health and longevity and commented, there is clear and compelling evidence, happy folks (less stress than unhappy people) tend to live longer and experience
better health.

So What

It is your job to be aware of excessive stress in your life and change your behaviors. Who cares more
whether you live a healthy, long life than you? You may want to stop rationalizing about your personal relationships and career. If you make difficult choices to reduce and eliminate distress in your life, you change the odds in your favor to avoid diseases and increase longevity.

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Copyright 2011, H. Bernard Wechsler

Author's Bio: 

Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's. Business partner of
Evelyn Wood (1909-1995)creator of speed reading. Graduating 2-million, including the
White House staffs of four U.S. Presidents: Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon-Carter.