Just clearing through mail during my first full weekend home in months and found this story on NPR about a book called The Longevity Project. It’s based on an eight-decade study. It proves what that earlier post about mothers being happy making you happy did: That studies are just studies!
Take disposition, for example. Cheerful and optimistic children are actually less likely to live long lives, they found.”The most cheerful, optimistic kids grew up to take more risks,” explains Martin. “By virtue of expecting good things to happen and feeling like nothing bad ever would, they predisposed themselves to be heavier drinkers, they tended to be smokers, and their hobbies were riskier.”
So, she concludes, “some degree of worrying actually is good.” And, in fact, adds Friedman, “the prudent, persistent, planful people — both in childhood … and then in young adulthood we measured that — that was the strongest individual difference, or personality predictor, of long life.”
And it’s not just about risk aversion. The study found that conscientious people developed better social relationships and accomplished more at work. Think all that responsibility sounds boring? Not so, says Martin. “Because of those qualities, they tended to get nice opportunities in life, and so they went on to live some of the most exciting and interesting lives of anyone in the study.”