Could this Be True? And What if It Is?

 In Better Life, Focusing on the positive, Health

I have to share a fascinating comment made by Ellen Langer, PhD, one of the world’s leading research scientists and the first female professor to gain tenure in Harvard University’s psychology department. She’s spent several decades exploring what she calls “the psychology of possibility.”

In her book, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, Ellen writes about her research on aging, 

“Having a positive attitude made far more difference than any to be gained from lowering blood pressure or reducing cholesterol, which typically improve lifespan by about four years. It also beats the benefits of exercise, maintaining proper weight, and not smoking, which are found to add one to three years.” 

How can that be?  So I did a little digging…

Once I started looking into the research, I quickly realized there are many factors that affect how much impact each of these has; your age, your overall health, how long you’ve smoked, for example, etc.  Despite all these influencers, it does seem to indicate that our positivity is something we should be thinking about, along with other physical factors.  

I’ve included some links at the bottom to get you started if you want to dig more, but here’s a quick summary on a few things I found.


  • Lowering blood pressure = 1.5 years longer life*
  • Losing weight = 1.3 years*
  • Exercising = 3 -5 years **
  • Quitting smoking = 3 – 9 years***
  • A positive outlook = 10 years #

So along with thinking about your weight, blood pressure, and exercise, what can you do to increase your positivity?  Be sure to check out my other tips for more ideas but here’s a couple of my favorites.

Why I’m Grateful for Singing in the Shower, Star Trek, and Straws

You’ll Want to Print This – A Simple List for More Positivity 

Let Me Tell You About My Wednesday 




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Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is Chief Positivity Officer of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She is certified in Positive Psychology, an authorized partner for Everything DiSC®, and a Professional Member of the National Speaker’s Association.

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