Although the essays may have been initially used to assess each nun’s career path, the documents were eventually archived and largely forgotten. More than 60 years later, the nuns’ writings surfaced again when three psychologists at the University of Kentucky re-viewed the essays as part of a larger study on aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
[Researchers] … read the nun’s biographical sketches and scored them for positive emotional content, recording instances of happiness, interest, love and hope.
What they found was remarkable: The nuns who expressed the most positive emotions lived up to 10 years longer than those who expressed the fewest. This gain in life expectancy is considerably larger than the gain achieved by those who quit smoking.
Wow! Positive emotions impact life expectancy???!!!
Positive emotions have far more power than most of us might have imagined!
Here is a simple daily exercise that can start to turn anyone’s emotions toward the positive:
- Each night, jot down 1, 2 or 3 positive things that happened during your day.
It might be something as simple as the delicious taste of butter on toast, seeing a spring flower in bloom, enjoying a hug with a friend.
- Try this every day for a week or two. What do you notice?