Even the most positive and optimistic of people have struggled with their outlook this year, because of the strange global situation brought about by the pandemic. But, even if you have had no reason to be in a celebratory mood this year, you need to consciously maintain a positive attitude towards life, because it can help you immensely with your mental well-being and your memory.

A recent study, carried out by Northwestern University in Illinois, has revealed that people who are positive and generally enthusiastic about life, are less likely to experience memory loss when they become old. Weakening of memory is a natural thing to happen to a person as they age, but their mental outlook can slow down this process.

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the research was done with 1,000 adults in the US, and was carried out over a period of time, as the participants got older.For the study, between 1995 and 1996, 2004 and 2006, and 2013 and 2014, the participants were asked to describe the emotions they felt over 30 days leading up to the study, before being asked to take a memory test. The test had them recall words directly after hearing them, and again 15 minutes later.

The participants’ age, gender, education and history of depression was taken into consideration, and the researchers were able to find a link between “positive affect” — how a person experiences positive emotions — and memory loss.

In other words, while all participants for the study showed a natural decline in memory with age, those with “higher rates of positive affect, had a better ability to recall information”.
“Individuals with higher levels of positive affect had a less steep memory decline over the course of almost a decade,” Emily Hittner, lead author of the study, was quoted as saying.

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