Accept yourself and live three years longer
If you are at peace with yourself and satisfied with what you have achieved in your life, psychologists say you have a large degree of self-acceptance. According to epidemiologists, this trait extends your lifespan by three years.
Reuben Ng, a researcher from the National University of Singapore, used data collected in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. This is an American project in which 10,317 people, who left high school in 1957, are followed for life.
Starting in the nineties, Ng studied a group of 7626 participants over twenty years.
The study participants should have told whether they agreed or disagreed with statements that psychologists say something about the degree of self-acceptance. "I like most parts of my personality", was one such statement. Two others were "When I look at the story of my life, I am pleased how things have turned out" and "In many ways, I feel okay about my achievements in life".
Ng suspected that self-acceptance involves accepting aging. Self acceptance makes that, even if you notice that you're getting older, you continue to live your life to the max. This explains why older people with a relatively high level of self-acceptance are mentally and physically healthier than peers who have more difficulty accepting themselves.
When Ng brushed aside with statistics the effect of psychological factors such as having a purpose in life, positive relationships with important others and mental growth and health factors such as depression, one's own assessment of health, smoking or not smoking, weight, age and chronic diseases, he discovered that self-acceptance prolonged life.
During the period that Ng could follow them, the study participants with a relatively high level of self-acceptance were 19 percent less likely to die than study participants with relatively little self-acceptance. This meant that the study participants with a lot of self-acceptance could live 3 years longer.
"Staying smoke-free and eating right are not the only strategies to live long and prosper", Ng writes. "Successful aging is achieved by both the body and mind."
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 18;17(16):5980.
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