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Positivity and emotional awareness can add years to your life

Living a long life has been associated with a variety of behaviors, such as healthy eating or regular exercise. However, according to a recent book written by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles (Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life), personality traits such as positivity and emotional awareness could also play a major role in longevity.

By analyzing previous research on longevity, García and Miralles found that the things that contribute to a long and healthy life are not limited to what we do physically. 

The power of positivity

A 2012 study published in the journal Aging that investigated the characteristics of nearly 250 centenarians based on self-reports and other peoples’ accounts of them has found that most of the people who live to be 100 or more have similar personality traits which may have helped increase their lifespan.

First, most of the study participants shared a positive attitude toward life, helping them prioritize peace and happiness. These people were characterized by others as optimistic, easygoing, and extroverted, and valued laughter as an important part of their daily lives. 

Emotional awareness and compassion 

In addition to having a positive outlook on life, centenarians were also found to be emotionally aware, and careful not to bottle up their emotions by making constant efforts to communicate how they feel to those around them. 

Expressing emotions in a healthy way can significantly benefit relationships, while social fitness – the act of closely examining the connections we value and resolve any issues that may arise in order to become a better friend and partner – has been associated by scientists to increased happiness and longevity.

“In other words, those who face challenges with a positive outlook and are able to manage their emotions are already well on their way toward longevity,” García and Miralles wrote.

Further research is needed

Although these two traits seem to be very common among centenarians, more research is needed to clarify whether they actually contribute to human longevity. 

“We still need to find out what the cause-and-effect relationship is. We don’t know if we can change longevity by having a positive attitude, or if achieving longevity causes a positive attitude,” concluded Nir Barzilai, a professor of Medicine and Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

More about emotional awareness 

Emotional awareness refers to the ability to recognize and understand one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. This is an essential component of emotional intelligence, which is often cited as being just as, if not more, important than cognitive intelligence in determining success in various areas of life.

Key aspects of emotional awareness 


This is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions as they occur. This includes understanding how these emotions influence thoughts, behaviors, and decision-making processes.

Emotional literacy

This is the ability to identify and properly label one’s emotions. It involves a nuanced understanding of the range and complexity of emotional experiences.

Recognition of others’ emotions

This is the ability to perceive and understand the emotions of others. This skill is closely related to empathy and is crucial in effective interpersonal communication.

Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions

This involves recognizing what events, thoughts, or situations trigger certain emotions, as well as the potential effects of these emotions on behavior and cognition.

Emotional regulation

This is the ability to effectively manage and respond to an emotional experience in a way that is appropriate for the situation.

Developing emotional awareness can be beneficial in many areas of life. It can improve interpersonal relationships, enhance decision-making abilities, boost workplace performance, and promote mental health. It can also help to reduce the impact of negative emotions and stress. 

Emotional awareness can be cultivated through practices such as mindfulness, introspection, journaling, therapy, and emotional intelligence training programs.


By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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