A simple way to save your memory

I love sharing simple, effective ways you can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease—whether it’s sticking to a healthy diet or getting regular exercise.

So, today, I want to tell you about yet another strategy—possibly the easiest of them all.

Because it’s not just what you do (or don’t do) that makes a difference. According to new research, your mindset could be every bit as powerful when it comes to preserving your memory…

Positive outlook preserves memory

This new study appeared recently in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers looked at nearly 1,000 middle aged and older Americans, all of whom participated in a national study that collected data during three different periods between 1995 and 2014.

As part of these studies, subjects reported on the positive emotions they experienced over the previous month. Then, in the later portion of the study, they completed memory performance tests (in this case, basic word recall).

The researchers analyzed the data for links between positive affect (like feeling enthusiastic and cheerful) and memory declines—accounting for key biological and psychological factors like age, gender, extraversion, depression, and pessimism.

As you might expect, they found that memory tended to decline with age. But people with higher levels of positive affect suffered slower declines over the span of a decade.

And given what we already know about the links between positivity and longevity, I really can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.

Optimism can save your life

I’ve shared similar research here before. But just to refresh your memory, let’s revisit a few highlights…

Back in 2013, researchers published a study showing that heart patients with greater positive affect—defined as happy, joyful, excited, content, or enthusiastic feelings—were 42 percent less likely to die of any cause after five years.

And just this past summer, I shared yet another study, which examined the links between optimism, inflammation, stroke severity, and disability in the three months following a stroke.

In this study, as levels of optimism rose, subjects’ stroke severity and inflammation levels dropped—even after accounting for a number of other variables. In other words, mental health—and positivity, specifically—appears to play a major role in stroke recovery.

On the other side of the spectrum, we also know that chronic hostility kills. In fact, a recent study showed that heart patients who were cynical, resentful, impatient, or irritable were significantly more likely to die from a second heart attack.

The bottom line to all of this? Well, it’s quite simple: A sunny outlook really can save your life. Of course, I realize this can be a tall order as the dark, cold days of winter return—much less, in the middle of skyrocketing political tension and pandemic infections.

So whether you’ve struggled with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the past or not, you may want to prepare yourself this year. Your health—and longevity—really do count on it.

Subscribers to my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, can find my most recent recommendations to navigate this common struggle in the December 2018 issue (“My 3-step, pill-free plan to banish the “winter blahs”—for good). Not yet a subscriber? As always, there’s no time like today to sign up.


“Positive outlook predicts less memory decline.” Science Daily, 10/29/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201029135501.htm)