Believe it or not, having a negative outlook may be the secret to living a longer life. Indeed, while it may not make for a happier life, a recent German study found that the more pessimistic people were about their future life satisfaction, the less likely they were to die early or become disabled.
While I have explored this theme in previous posts (i.e., “why optimism can be bad for you mental health,” and “the negative path to happiness”), this is, perhaps, the first time that pessimism has been shown to be significantly correlated with longevity.
The study researchers asked subjects to rate how happy they expected to be in 5 years on a scale of 0 (totally miserable) to 10 (blissfully happy). Based on data from an impressive sample of 40,000 people between the ages of 18 and 96, it was discovered that for every point by which a person overestimated his or her future happiness, there was a 10% higher likelihood that that person would die or become disabled in the following decade.
The authors of the study conjectured that pessimism about the future may encourage people to take fewer risks, be more vigilant about their medical health, and generally take more safety precautions.