People who enjoy life in general, age better, are healthier, fitter, and more active. Amherst College’s research in longevity has also credited friendship and social connection with:
- Boosting happiness
- Lowering risk of mental illness
- Improving self-worth
- Providing fun
A 10-year study of 1,500 people 70 and over conducted by the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging (pdf file) reported that those with the strongest network of friends and confidants were 22% less likely to die during the study than those with the weakest network of good friendships.
1. Participants have aged with differing degrees of success. Those classified at Baseline as ageing less successfully were more likely to die in the intervening eight years.
2. Risk factors for mortality included
- Lack of exercise: people who did not exercise were found to be at high risk of mortality over the first 2 years of the study. Those who reported exercising more survived longer were more likely to be male and have better self-reported health
- Social networks comprising discretionary relationships were protective against mortality in a ten year follow up. This was found for participants living in both the community and residential care facilities.
- Psychological factors including intact cognitive functioning, a higher expectancy of control over life, and for women, better morale, were linked to better survival odds over 8 years, independent of health and physical functioning.
- Depressive symptoms present a greater risk of mortality for men than women, with incident depression in old age representing a greater risk for men.
Since there is absolutely nothing you can do about the number of years you have lived or will live, the only logical conclusion is to embrace whatever number you are currently at, and then forget it.
Do everything possible to do what makes you feel good and discover how good you do feel when you help others. Other than that, if being happier means Botox, injectable wrinkle fillers or platelet-rich plasma therapy, go for it. If none of that is for you, trying taking a brisk walk every day.
Eat healthier. Every positive step begets another. Put a few positive steps together and watch for the change in attitude = happiness that results.