Our Attitude is worth many years of life




Matthew Ricard:  “Happiness”

D. Danner and his colleagues studied the longevity of a group of 178 Catholic nuns born in the early twentieth century.

They lived in the same convent and taught at the same school in Milwaukee.


Their case is particularly interesting because the outward circumstances of their lives were remarkably similar: the same daily routines, same diet, no tobacco or alcohol, same social and financial status, and, lastly, same access to medical care.


These factors eliminated many variables caused by environmental conditions.


The researchers analyzed the autobiographical account that each nun had written before taking her vows.


Psychologists who knew nothing about these women assessed the positive and negative sentiments expressed in their writings.



Some had repeatedly mentioned that they were “very happy” or felt “great joy” at the thought of entering monastic life and serving others, while others manifested little or no positive emotion.



Once the nuns were classified according to the degree of joy and satisfaction expressed in their brief bios, the results were correlated with their longevity.


It turned out that 90 percent of the nuns placed in the “most happy” quarter of the group were still alive at eighty-five, as opposed to 34 percent of those in the “least happy” quarter.


An in-depth analysis of their writing allowed the elimination of other facts that might have explained the disparate longevity figures:


no link was established between the nuns’ longevity and the strength of their faith, the intellectual sophistication of their writing, their hopes for the future, or any other parameter that was considered.


In a word, it would seem that happy nuns live longer than unhappy nuns. “


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Laurie on December 19, 2018 at 3:06 am

    This is interesting. It makes good sense

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