Happy-go-lucky individuals die long before prudent worriers

If you’re attempting to squeeze every drop out of life and striving to maximize performance, then I’m pretty sure you’ve experience other people in your life making really helpful comments like….

Cheer up. Stop worrying. Don’t work so hard.

Typically, they round off their well wishes with some comment about this being the secret to a long life.

 lifecycle birth to death

Science suggests chilling out too much, chills you out

 Yep, a groundbreaking study, which has taken 80 years to complete, just turned the table on the idea that “chilling out” is the secret to longevity.

 The study, actually found out the slackers were less likely to make it to a ripe old age.

 The 80 year study

The study started in 1921, when a Stanford University psychologist  interviewed 1500 bright eyed and bushy tailed 10 year olds.  As part of the initial assessment, he looked at personality characteristics and social relationships,  the study then continued to gather data on the cohort of people, for the next eight decades.  The ongoing study became known as “The Longevity Project”.  

The date collected included

  • Family history
  • Relationships
  • Teacher and parent ratings of personalities
  • Hobbies
  • Pet ownership
  • Job success
  • Education levels
  • Military service
  • Religion
  • Health records etc

Culminating in death certificates

Thousands of pages of data was ultimately gathered and analyzed.

Happy people die young

The big surprise when all the data was analyzed.  The kids who were most cheerful and had the best sense of humour, were first in the grave, while those who were less cheerful and joking, stuck around for the long haul.

Individuals considered to be prudent and persistent stayed healthiest and lived the longest.

Why would the happy-go-lucky go first ?

It is surmised that the cheerful, happy-go-lucky, tended to take more risks,  particularly when it came to their health across the years.

The “optimistic” approach can be helpful in a crisis, it is probably more pleasant to live with, but doesn’t work out too well in terms of longevity.  The optimistic approach subscribes to  the belief ‘everything will be just fine’.  If you never take anything “seriously”, serious things can slip in  and bite you in the butt.

In contrast, the worry pots i.e. prudent and persistent, tend to take life a whole lot more seriously, which adds up to living cautiously and health benefits over the long haul.

So happiness is not a root cause of good health. 

Behaviours associated with longevity

So besides being prudent and persistent, what else did the long lifers have/do to increase their days ………….

  • Getting married was significant for men but not that important for women
  • Divorce was not “deadly” for women i.e. didn’t have an impact on longevity
  • Hard work, in terms of involvement and commitment, increased longevity
  • Long lifers worked for longer i.e. early retirement was not a good option
  • Starting school too early (before the age of 6) decreased longevity
  • Pets improved well being but not longevity
  • Going to war, provided you came home alive and not in a body bag, didn’t decrease your days
  • Feeling loved, didn’t make you live longer but made life more pleasant, particularly if you were in a position to “help” others.

Secret to a healthier life

Just stop worrying about worrying.  But don’t give it up completely – just make sure you “manage” your concerns as best you can.

Mortality and Morbidity Trends: Is There Compression of Morbidity?  The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 2010; 66B (1): 75 E. M. Crimmins, H. Beltran-Sanchez.

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Further reading

singing is good for the heart
idle brain
connecting with others
Blood pressure meds going for a song Switch off everything every now and again to switch yourself on Don’t bother counting your blessings rather count your groups of “friends” 

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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