Remember this: A smile and a positive outlook might help you stave off memory loss as you age.
That’s a finding in a study published in the journal Psychological Science, which found that memory loss appeared to slow in people who have what is known as a positive affect. This refers to feelings of cheerfulness and enthusiasm.
Researchers looked at about 1,000 middle-aged and older adults in a national study conducted in three phases from 1995 to 2014. Participants at each stage were quizzed on the positive emotions they had experienced over the preceding month. A memory test was administered in the two final assessments.
Memory tests included participants reading a set of words that they had to recall immediately and then after 15 minutes.
Scientists calculated the association between memory and positive affect. They controlled for a wide range of factors, including age, gender, education and depression.
The team that analyzed the data noted that memory, in fact, does decline with age. No surprise there for any 50-something who has misplaced their car keys.
But the decline in memory was less steep for the more cheerful folks.
None of this is shocking. Indeed, a wide range of health benefits have been associated with a positive outlook on life in research going back years. Investigations have shown that being upbeat and happy can lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, reduce blood sugar levels and even help people control their weight and stay fit.
So, as you’re confronted with life’s inevitable troubles, do your best to keep a smile on your face. It might help you live longer.