Can you imagine what it would be like to live to be ninety? Or older?


If you’re like me, you plan (or at least hope) to live a long life. Medical advancements are going to help immensely with that in the future, however, there are already populations all around the world that live long, full lives whose secrets we can learn and apply (See: blue zones).

Yes, even certain personality traits are thought to contribute to a longer lifespan, not just physical health and genetic factors.

One such population lives in the remote Italian region of Cilento and their citizens are known for living well into their nineties and beyond.

A study conducted recently on elders of the Cilento region found several interesting similarities in the population traits that those elders exhibited. Traits which researchers believe may help others live longer and more fulfilling lives.

Old age: the crown of life, our play’s last act.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

These are the personality traits they found were shared by the elders of Cilento:

1. They’re resilient and masters at adapting to life’s changes

The ninety and one-hundred-year-olds who were part of the Cilento study showed several interesting traits. One of the most interesting was their shared ability to adapt to life’s challenges.

The elders of Cilento have gone through some of the most difficult experiences imaginable from the loss of children and spouses to economic depressions and migrations. And yet, as one of the participants told researchers, “I have fought all my life and I am always ready for changes. I think changes bring life and give chances to grow.”

To live a fulfilling life we must be able and willing to adapt to the changes that life can and will throw at us. But if we can do that there lies an opportunity for personal growth which we can take with us for the rest of our life.

2. They’re positive and love staying busy

The oldest adults from the region are also very positive and love staying busy.

They frequently connect with family, have a healthy religious life, and work regularly whether within their home, on their land, or elsewhere.

Participants note that these activities which keep them busy help them maintain their positive outlook and give them a sense of purpose well into old age.

3. They’re self-confident and have better mental health than younger generations

Ninety-year and older participants had another surprising trait in common: they were more confident than the younger generations.

The older generations had worse physical health, which was expected, but they surprisingly tested better than those same younger participants when it came to mental health.

Specifically, the oldest adults of Cilento showed greater self-confidence, better decision-making skills, increased life satisfaction, and lower levels of stress.

I know many who aren’t exactly looking forward to growing old. However, research has really started to shine a light on the common misconception that life gets more difficult as we grow older. In fact, many studies have shown evidence that life gets easier and we become more stable, happy, and fulfilled the older we get.

Researchers were quick to mention that because most research into longevity so far has focused on physical health factors and genetics, they hope their research can shed further light on other factors– such as mental health and certain personality traits– that help people live long and fulfilling lives.