Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yeah! Grumpy People Live Longer

“Prom queens live on average five years longer than the rest of the population.” Spoken with authority by Quinn, the blonde cheerleading beauty and Prom Queen wannabe on this week’s episode of Glee, the thought gave me pause. This couldn’t be true, I told myself. If it is, the world is a far crueler place than I already thught it was. It’s just wouldn't be fair.

I have nothing against prom queens (or football captains). I’m sure I’d like both if I knew any. It’s only that there are other people I’d much prefer to have the statistical advantage that Quinn informs us prom queens garnered on the mortality front. Is smiling really that good for you?

I’m making an assumption here, so forgive me. And maybe times have changed, but in 'my day,’prom queens were relentlessly cheerful, and smiled more often than not, even when reason highly suggested otherwise.. It wasn’t a style I was attracted to then or now. Cheerful, good. Relentlessly so?  No. It’s about my nerves. It gets on them.

I tend to like people who have a good sense of irony and healthy respect for life’s absurdities. Curmudgeons, misanthropes and caustic people bug me after awhile, but can be mildly amusing until they do. And then there’s the non-prom-queen rest of us. What did we ever do to earn the early checkout time?

Well, it turns out. Maybe nothing. Because our dear Quinn may have gotten it wrong. Grumpy older people now have a good reason to cheer up - they'll outlive optimists, says a new study.

Researchers in California have found that being cantankerous is the key to reaching old age - this is because happier peopole are likely to take more risks through their lives including eating unhealthy foods, drinking and smoking. The findings, part of a 90-year study, cast doubt on reports that loving marriages, active social lives, raising children or owning a pet help people to live longer, according to results from the Longevity Project..

Researcher Leslie Martin said, "We came to a new understanding about happiness and health. One of the findings that astounded us was that participants who were the most cheerful and had the best sense of humour as children lived shorter lives, on average, than those who were less cheerful. Psychologists found that the most cheerful individuals, with the best sense of humour, die earlier on average than their counterparts with the set jaw and furrowed brow.\

Participants who were the most cheerful and had the best sense of humour as kids lived shorter lives, on average, than those who were less cheerful and joking,’ said DrMartin, of La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

‘It was the most prudent and persistent individuals who stayed healthiest and lived the longest.’
The researchers discovered that the happy souls went on to take more gambles with their health over the years. They were more likely to drink, smoke and eat badly.

Lead author Dr Howard Friedman said optimism could be helpful in a crisis.
But he added: ‘We found that as a general life-orientation, too much of a sense that “everything will be just fine” can be dangerous because it can lead one to be careless about things that are important to health and long life.’

Read more about the Longevity Project, begun in 1921, when researchers began following 1500 children until their deaths.

The results may make all you grumpy people out there smile. It did so for me. But what’s so good about that? According to the study, nothing.

1 comment:

  1. I keep trying to call my moms cell phone in order to tell you how absolutely fabulous your humor, wit and writing is. This post in particular speaks to Carrier Bradshaw, only with a smarter, more ambitious (but perhaps not less relative), funnier prose. You need a column, a starbucks card and a laptop.

    Seriously Linda, this is just wonderful and so ridiculously entertaining (yet informational!) to read!

    On to procrastinate my own writings, and read more of yours... xo