Never mind if your glass is half-empty or half-full: Is your partner's glass half-full?
According to a recent study from researchers at Michigan State University published in the Journal of Personality, the old "happy wife, happy life" adage may be true. The research found that having an optimistic partner may reduce the risk of cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia. For this particular study, social scientists followed nearly 4,500 heterosexual couples for up to eight years from the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study, which is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. The results from the data show a potential connection between marrying an optimist and avoiding cognitive decline, due to a healthier home environment.
"We spend a lot of time with our partners," said William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology and co-author of the study, via a press release published on Eurekalert. "They might encourage us to exercise, eat healthier or remind us to take our medicine. When your partner is optimistic and healthy, it can translate to similar outcomes in your own life. You actually do experience a rosier future by living longer and staving off cognitive illnesses."
Later in the media statement, Chopik further elucidated their findings: "We found that when you look at the risk factors for what predicts things like Alzheimer's disease or dementia, a lot of them are things like living a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity are large predictors. There are some physiological markers as well. It looks like people who are married to optimists tend to score better on all of those metrics."
Happiness, of course, comes from within, as well, and not everybody is lucky enough to have a spouse throughout adulthood and into their golden years. Even if you're not in a committed relationship, it's likely you can mimic some of the health-supportive effects of a partnership through close bonds with friends and family members and participating in activities that support both physical fitness and emotional well-being—whether that's taking regular yoga classes or volunteering every weekend at a local park. (Fun fact: People who volunteer live longer, according to research.)
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Recent research found people spent between $500 and $2,500 less on in one year.
Whether you're in a relationship or single, perhaps the most valuable takeaway from Chopik is this: "There are studies that show people have the power to change their personalities, as long as they engage in things that make them change. Part of it is wanting to change. There are also intervention programs that suggest you can build up optimism." As of yet, there's no magical "optimism" pill, but if you keep building your store up little-by-little, you can nurture your reserve like a bed of blossoming tulips.