8. Be optimistic
One quality most centenarians share, according to the large-scale New England Centenarian Study, is an ability to not dwell on difficulties. Stress provokes a physiological response that’s hard on the body, says Hymie Anisman, professor of neuroscience at Carleton University in Ottawa. Your body pumps out adrenaline and cortisol, which are meant to help you cope with danger in the short term but which can damage your immune system, heart and brain when you’re constantly keyed up.
Dr. Becca Levy, from the Yale School of Public Health, has found some extraordinary benefits of an optimistic outlook. In one study, she looked at 660 people who’d completed a survey about their attitude to aging in 1975, then correlated their responses to the ages at which they died. “We found that individuals with a more positive view of aging tended to live seven-and-a-half years longer than those with more negative views of aging,” says Dr. Levy. “This advantage remained after adjusting for a number of factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and functional health.”