It seems it really does pay to be happy. Women who had a glass half full outlook on life are understood to live longer than those who believe it is half empty, according to new research.

A study looked at information collected over an eight year period about 70,000 women. It discovered that those who were post optimistic were less likely to die from the likes of cancer, heart disease or stroke that those who were more negative about life.

Researchers believe this is because people with a better outlook on life tend to have healthier habits including taking exercise, eating better diets and having a higher quality sleep; which are all things which can reduce the risk of dying.

Lead author Kaitlin Hagan from Harvard University said: “Optimism may also have a direct impact on our biological functioning. Other studies have shown that higher optimism is linked with lower inflammation, healthier lipid levels and higher antioxidants.”

Health habits

She and fellow authors looked at the Nurses Health Study, which collected data from nurses in 1976 when they were between 30 and 55. Those women were asked about their habits and optimism from 2004 through to 2012. They were then divided into groups depending on how optimistic they were.

Compared with those who were pessimistic, those with a sunnier view of life were found to be nearly a third less likely to die during the study period. This latest piece of research backs up other studies which have linked optimism with a reduced risk of early death from heart problems, but is the first to link positivity to a reduced death risk from other major causes.

Researchers did acknowledge that a lack of optimism my be caused by health problems, however, rather than the other way round. Following the study, Dr Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio urged those who weren’t naturally optimistic to do what they could to change their mindset, including working with a counselor and watching movies with positive messages.