Expert Reveals The Simple Adjustment That Could Add Years To Your Life

Centenarian status is no longer out of reach!

Woman accepting the kindness she gives and sees in the world Zinkevych, Avelino Calvar, AlenaPaulus, Tobi / Canva

The Population Division of the United Nations posted data regarding the increasing number of centenarians (people living to at least 100 years old), revealing that the number of centenarians living in the U.S. has doubled over the past two decades.

Some centenarians credit their long life in part to a key personality trait that has kept them moving forward in more ways than just living — they like to think positively. However, an expert revealed that being positive isn’t the only thing that could help you reach 100.


An expert revealed that being conscientious could help you live longer.

A 103-year-old woman named Roslyn Menaker told The Guardian that “happiness, joy, appreciation [and] a positive outlook” have helped her reach centenarian status.

Ruth Sweedler, 103, told CNBC Make It that she was often praised for her positive attitude growing up. “When I walked into a classroom, my teacher would say, ‘Good morning, sunshine!’ Because I was so cheerful,” she said.

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A former professor of personality psychology at the University of Notre Dame spoke to CNBC’s Make It and commented on these statements, adding his own thoughts to the mix. “I think the effects of just being positive are overstated,” said Professor David Watson, explaining why the relationship between personality and aging may not be so cut and dry.


Based on the personality theory regarding the Five Factor Model that claims there are five categories in which personality traits lie, Watson claims that conscientiousness is the most closely linked to longevity in age.

Conscientiousness is defined by having good impulse control, high levels of thoughtfulness, and determination. People who are conscientious tend to be organized and mindful of details.

The reason that conscientiousness is closely linked to longevity is that conscientious people are most likely to take better care of themselves. “Conscientious people don’t do stupid things so they have lower rates of accidents and better health behaviors,” Watson says. Additionally, they may do better in drinking in moderation or following healthy eating habits than others.

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Increasing your conscientiousness isn’t difficult — and you may just live longer because of it.

Watson reveals that there are workshops that seek to increase a person’s ability to self-regulate and increase their conscientiousness, so hope is not lost! You may be able to increase your conscientiousness as you age and increase your age by doing so.

“The basic idea is if you want to increase your conscientiousness, act more conscientious, and the attitude follows the behavior,” he said. “Try to be on time for things. Follow through on things.”

Having a positive attitude factors into the equation as well. According to a study published in 2019, positive thinking can result in an 11–15% longer lifespan and a stronger likelihood of living to age 85 or older. It was also reported that, in previous studies, positive people were less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and die prematurely.

This isn’t far off from what Watson had to say on the subject of a positive personality having a positive effect on one’s health. “Psychologically healthy people have a quicker recovery time,” he said. “They are able to tell themselves, ‘This is not that big of a deal.’ They find ways to bring themselves back into that equilibrium.”


It doesn’t take much to stay positive and increase your conscientiousness, and making these simple adjustments could add years to your life and help you reach centenarian status.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.