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Study: Positive thinking can extend life

September 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Numerous studies show anti-aging starts in the mind. It's all in how you think.

Researchers say people who maintain a youthful outlook in life often have one thing in common: They tend to dwell on the positive. But becoming a positive thinker takes a bit of practice.

A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals that positive thinkers lived seven and half years longer than those less optimistic.

Researchers say optimistic people tend to have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol reading and had an increased desire to exercise. Overall they felt younger.

"It's really about how we think about aging that affects aging the most," says Sheri Meyers, a marriage and family therapist.

Meyers says positive thinking helps people build resilience to stress.

"Focus on the facts. 'Where can I go? What are my options? What are the paths? And what is the light at the end of this tunnel?'" says Meyers.

In fact, research shows being grateful for what you do have helps battle depression.

"Because the minute you start opening your heart to feeling grateful, to saying 'thank you,' something shifts inside," says Meyers.

And make time to take care of yourself.

"Do something like 'I'm going to eat well,' I'm going to drink plenty of water, I'm going to exercise and move today, because taking care of yourself then relieves stress," says Meyers.

Meyers also recommends another important tip: Look for the humor in everything. Or you can just laugh for the fun of it. She says it's the antidote for stress.

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