The Nun study is a well-known case study in positive psychology circles. It’s a great example, which is often used by positive psychology trainers and human resources professionals who want to show the practical implications of positive mindsets.
In a large research project on the brain and ageing, scientists studied the brains of more than 500 nuns. Whether you’re a positive psychology trainer, a HR business partner or a professional who wants to excel, you will find the results inspiring. The researchers analysed the letters the nuns had written when applying to join their orders. They discovered that the nuns who expressed more positive emotions in their writing lived much longer than those who were less cheerful. In fact, 60% of the unhappy nuns died by age 80. On the other hand, the positive sisters often lived to be past 90 years old.
This is an interesting indication that there could be a direct relationship between positivity and longevity. Whether that link is causal isn’t clear yet – but it is something to ponder. Looking to increase your own positive outlook? It’s easy to start. Positive psychologists recommend writing your thoughts down in a daily journal. Try focusing on the blessings you have received and how your positive experiences can lead you into a more positive future. This is a simple exercise in gratitude.
About the author of this article:
Eleanor Shakiba is passionate about helping talented people flourish professionally. She coaches and trains high performers who want to excel in business. Her core expertise is in positive psychology. Eleanor is the author of the Positive Psychology Toolkit for HR and L&D practitioners. She also runs master practitioner level retreats and workshops for trainers and facilitators.