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Have you ever heard of eudemonic well-being? It’s related to the sense of self-control, based on individual ethics. The fact is that people with a high capacity to make decisions in tune with their objectives can live two years longer than those who don’t. The conclusion stems from a study led by University College London with support from US-based universities Princeton and Stony Brook. 9,050 English people with an average age of 65 were interviewed.

The full study, published in health portal The Lancet, shows that scientists worked with four levels of well-being, ranging from the highest to the lowest. Over the next eight and a half years, 9% of people in the highest well-being category had died, compared with 29% in the lowest category.

The results were adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic status, physical health, depression, smoking, physical activity and alcohol intake, to rule out as many factors as possible that could influence both health and well-being. The goal was to isolate the eudemonic well-being factor. And they reached a different result: one-third of people with the highest well-being were less likely to die over the study period, living on average two years longer than those in the lowest well-being group.

“We have previously found that happiness is associated with a lower risk of death,” says professor Andrew Steptoe, director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, who led the study. “We cannot be sure that higher well-being necessarily causes lower risk of death, since there isn’t causal scientific proof, just a behavioral analysis. But the findings raise the intriguing possibility that increasing well-being could help to improve physical health.”

There are several biological mechanisms that could be the physical link the cause and effect of this process investigated by Steptoe. Examples include hormonal changes or reduced blood pressure provoked by this well-being. “Further research will be necessary to confirm these assumptions and scientifically prove the link between well-being and longevity.”

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