The #1 personality trait associated with longevity
The number of people living to be at least 100 years old in the US has doubled over the past decade.
Roslyn Menaker, 103, told The Guardian that "happiness, joy, appreciation ... a positive outlook" are why she has lived so long. Ruth Seedler, 103, told CNBC Make It that she was always praised for her positive attitude. "When I entered a classroom, my teacher would say: 'Good morning, sun!' Because I was very happy," she said.
While older adults may think that being positive has played a role in their longevity, the relationship between personality and aging is more nuanced, says David Watson, a former professor of personality psychology at the University of Notre Dame.
"I think the effects of being positive are overrated," he says. But there are other traits he believes are closely related to longevity.
"Conscientious people don't do stupid things"
Conscientiousness, or how organized and disciplined you are, is most closely related to longevity, Watson says.
This is likely because people with high levels of conscientiousness are better at taking care of themselves. Mindful people, for example, tend to drink alcohol in moderation and eat more balanced meals, he says.
"Conscious people don't do stupid things, so they have lower accident rates and better health," he says.
That doesn't mean a positive attitude doesn't do anything, he adds.
Adaptability can play a role in longevity, especially when it comes to coping with stressful situations.
"Psychologically healthy people have a faster recovery time," he says. "They find ways to bring themselves back into that balance."