Longer Life with an Open Mind

Can your personality impact how long you live? Perhaps.

Researchers have long been studying the connection between health and personality traits. In particular, they’ve been looking at openness, which measures cognitive flexibility and the willingness to entertain novel ideas. Recent studies have linked the personality trait of openness with lower metabolic risk, higher self-rated health, and more appropriate stress responses.

How is this possible? It seems that creativity is associated with openness. Apparently, the trait leads to creative thinking that reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy.

One possible reason why creativity is protective of health is that it draws on a variety of neural networks within the brain. Creativity maintains the integrity of neural networks even into old age. Because the brain is the command center for all body functions, exercising it helps all systems to continue running smoothly. Therefore, keeping the brain healthy may be one of the most important aspects of aging successfully, a fact shown by creative people living longer.

Additionally, creative people handle stress better. They tend not to get as easily flustered when faced with an emotional or physical hurdle. And remember that stress is known to harm overall health, including cardiovascular, immune, and cognitive systems. It appears that creative people may see stressors more as challenges that they can work to overcome rather than as stressful obstacles they can’t defeat.

In terms of parenting and discipline, the personality traits of openness and creativity are fundamentally related to the three practices of positivity, choice, and reflection. So practicing them may not just help improve relations between adults and children; it may also help you live longer!