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To be satisfied with life, to be optimistic and not cultivate negative emotions are more than Zen-Buddhist practices. A study conducted in the United States by psychologists Ed Diener, professor at the University of Illinois, and Micaela Chan, from the University of Texas, shows evidence that positive thinking and behavior increase quality of health and longevity.

With support from other research centers in the United States, the conclusion came after a series of experimental studies – with humans and animals –, taking into account changes in subjective well-being and physiological processes over time. Convincing proof was identified that well-being influences health and longevity in healthy populations. With victims of serious diseases, like cancer, the result was controversial. Researchers observed, however, that the intense positive or maniac positive effect can be prejudicial to health.

The study discussed issues like causality, size of effect, types of subjective well-being and statistical controls.

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