I happened upon a December 2011 article from the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology discussing an 8 decade research project examining the longevity of more than 1,500 children first studied in 1921. You can access this article here.
Some of the key findings relate to the function of personality and social relations as protective factors against disease. Some important take away points are related to a misunderstanding about stress. Chronic psychological disturbance is not the same thing as hard work, social challenges or demanding careers. So no- retiring early to Florida does not guarantee a longer and healthier life. There is ample evidence to suggests a key to a long and fruitful life is to find challenges, purpose, and meaning. Those who are socially connected, having meaningful work and a happy, responsible marriage appear to live longer and healthier lives. The traditional biomedical model of disease- that you are healthy until you get sick is seriously flawed. As the article points out physical well being and emotional well being are two sides of the same coin.