Aging Well: Why Stubborn People Live Longer

New research indicates that being stubborn could help you live longer. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It seems that everyone is on a quest to live longer. In fact, every healthy habit, like not eating fries for every meal, is rooted in the desire to keep our hearts and bodies running smoothly. But a new study suggests that outliving, well, everyone else, could be in our minds.

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Researchers from the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy and the University of California San Diego teamed up to study residents in nine villages located in southern Italy who lived to be more than 90 years old, according to a news release.

Published in International Psychogeriatrics, the team's paper compared the health of 29 people from the ages of 90-101 to their family members, all between 51-75. They found that younger participants were in better health physically while their older family members were in better mental health. What's more, certain personality traits, like stubbornness and positivity, were linked to this boost in mindset.

"The main themes that emerged from our study, and appear to be the unique features associated with better mental health of this rural population, were positivity, work ethic, stubbornness and a strong bond with family, religion and land," study co-author Dr. Dilip Jeste, of UC San Diego School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The researchers explain that many of the older participants tended to be domineering, stubborn and liked to be in control. The team believes these attributes help people stay true to their beliefs as they care less about judgment from others.

"This tendency to control the environment suggests notable grit that is balanced by a need to adapt to changing circumstances," said study co-author Anna Scelzo, a mental health worker in Italy.

Data was gathered using both measurable assessments for mental and physical health, including factors like optimism and depression, in addition to interviews that gathered personal stories about traumatic life events and beliefs. The team also analyzed the younger participants on the same rating scales but also asked them to describe their older relatives' personalities.

A new study says people only want to live a long life if they're healthy. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The older people's positive outlooks could be seen in snippets from interviews, with one respondent proclaiming, "I am always thinking for the best. There is always a solution in life. This is what my father has taught me: to always face difficulties and hope for the best."

If you don't have the brightest outlook on life, there's always the standard healthy eating and exercise route.

According to Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, going for a run might be your best defense against an early death.

"If I had to rank behaviors in terms of priority, I'd say that exercise is the most important thing associated with living longer and healthier," he said in an article on the National Institutes of Health website. "Exercise is especially important for lengthening active life expectancy, which is life without disease and without physical and mental/thinking disability."

However, it seems that not everyone wants to live to be 100. Despite the abundance of stories and research about the topic, a study released this week showed that people really only want to experience the joys of long life if they're healthy, reports Science Daily.