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Harvard Study Shows Positive Thinking Can Prolong Your Life

BOSTON (CBS) - Harvard University researchers have found the power of positive thinking can help you live longer.

Hayami Koga says she tries to stay positive. "I think I'm more of a glass half full person," she says. "I try to look at the bright side of life."

A new study shows an optimistic outlook on life may help you live longer.

"When comparing the most optimistic to the least optimistic women people had a reduced risk of dying from cancer, infection, stroke, heart disease, and lung disease," said Dr. Eric Kim.

Dr. Eric Kim and researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at data on 70,000 women over eight years. The most optimistic women had a nearly 30% lower risk of dying.

"It seems to have the most effect on cardiovascular outcomes and the smallest effect on cancer outcomes," said Dr. Kim.

Researchers say taking steps to boost your optimism might also lead to healthy behaviors and better coping skills.

Dr. Kim says there are some easy ways to do that. "One is called best possible self. So you think about your different domains of life whether it's your personal relationship, your spouse, your career, your friendships, and in each of those domains you think about the best possible outcome," Dr. Kim said.

To increase optimism, you can also write down three things you are grateful for each night and make a list of the kind things you've done for others. This study only looked at women, but Dr. Kim says based on other studies these findings can probably be applied to men as well.

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