Harvard Women's Health Watch

How your attitudes affect your health

A positive view of life and aging may help you live longer.

attitudes affect health
Giving life two thumbs up may help you stay healthier.
Image: marejuliasz/iStock

Do you look forward to the next week? Do you feel younger than your age? Do you have a sense of purpose? If so, you may already have done something to reduce your risk of degenerative diseases and may even be adding years to your life.

"Your outlook—having a sense of optimism and purpose—seems to be predictive of health outcomes," says Dr. Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Kubzansky has studied the health effects of several forms of psychological well-being. She has found that emotional vitality—characterized by enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement in life, and the ability to face life's stresses with emotional balance—is associated with a substantially reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

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