The secret to living longer might start with just being a kind person.
Whenever you come across a story about someone who lived to at least 100, there’s a common theme with how those went about with their lives. It’s not about having a good diet; that’s a given, but it’s something a bit selfless.
Take Chitetsu Watanabe, who turned 113 earlier this year. Watanabe said his secret toward longevity is to not get angry and keep a smile on your face. Similarly, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, who lived until 105 before his death in 2017, preached a simmer ode as well by enjoying yourself and being happy as a method for living life to the fullest.
That outlook of being kind goes hand-in-hand with generosity. Whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment gift or just going out of your way to make someone happy, a new study found that people who are selfless and share more live longer.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany recently had a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, where they discovered that societies where members were caring and supportive of each other lived longer than others.
Basically, the more you share, the longer you can live.
The study — led by researchers Fanny Kluge and Tobias Vogt — compiled data from 34 countries from the National Transfer Accounts project to see how wealth was redistributed in different cultures. Regions like South America shared more than 60% of their average life income with others, which gave them lower mortality rates compared to other regions like sub-Saharan Africa, which recorded the highest mortality rate of countries studied due to low sharing.
Other places — like Western Europe, Australia, Japan, and Taiwan — recorded some of the lower mortality rates. Looking at France and Japan, average citizens share around 68-69% of their lifetime income, according to the study. When comparing France and Japan to countries like China or Turkey, the risk of dying for people over 65 is only half as half in the coming year.
Citizens in China and Turkey redistribute around 44% and 48% of their income, per the study.
“What I find particularly interesting is that the relationship between generosity and lifetime income that we described does not depend on whether the benefits come from the state or from the wider family,” said Kluge in a press release.
If sharing is the key to happiness and longer life, why aren’t more people doing it? This isn’t the first study to link happiness to a better quality of life. One study found that older people were as much as 35% less likely to die if they were happy, excited, or content about a day, CNN reported.
In a separate report, CNN cited the UN’s World Happiness Report, which looks into generosity and life expectancy when compiling its analysis. Finland remained the happiest country for the third consecutive year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to change things.
“Generous behavior is related to trust and mutual regard and a sense of being together,” John Helliwell, co-editor of the World Happiness Report, told the outlet. “People who are happier are subsequently healthier