3Having a Large Family
You'd think that with all the body-ripping and stress associated with pregnancy, childbirth and babies that each kid would knock a few years off a woman's life. In what kind of world would varicose veins in the vagina be a good thing, after all? This one, it turns out. Women who have more kids tend to add years to their life as they have them. Dads, too. For proof, look no further than the Amish.
Researchers studied 937 mothers and 1,078 fathers from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, going back to 1749. What they found was that for every kid up to baby No. 14, lifespan increased for the mom by 0.32 years and for dad by 0.23 years. In other words, every four kids bought dads almost a year of life! Finally, a good reason for having sex!
"Hey, I was thinking maybe you could come over later and we could add eight minutes to each others' lives."
So, you're probably thinking "Hey, the Amish are a hearty, clean-living folk. That's not me!" Fine. A 20-year study in another part of the world came to the same conclusions. In 1988 and 1989, over 2,800 elderly people from Dubbo, Australia, agreed to check in with researchers until the day they died. Old ladies who never had children experienced the highest mortality rate, but old ladies who had farted out six or more kids had a 40 percent lower death risk than those who kept their legs crossed every now and then. Does that mean there's a whole colony of immortal Australian women? We'll never know.
We also don't know why women who have more kids live longer. It could be that moms with bigger families have stronger social networks that keep them going longer. Or maybe the more kids you have, the greater chance you have of getting cool and helpful microchimeric fetal cells that benefit your body. Or maybe they just have more motivation to cling to life, to see how their kids turn out. You're not paying attention to any of this anyway, because you're still too busy imagining Amish people fucking.
"Wait. It's a-rockin'. We'll wait a few minutes before we come a-knockin'."
2Don't Be Too Cheerful
We've got good news for people who love bad news and bad news for that goofball who's always so cheerful at the office. You know the one -- the person who never shows up in a bad mood and always remembers your birthday with cupcakes and squishy hugs. According to an eight-decade study discussed in The Longevity Project, people who approach life with an overly optimistic, cheerful, happy-go-lucky attitude aren't the longest-living people on the planet. Which suddenly makes every rom-com's manic pixie dream girl a tragic figure. Eat it, Zooey!
So, again, how can this be possible? Aren't grumpy people constantly at risk for high blood pressure and all of those other stress-related illnesses?
"I'm 113 years old and fueled by pure hate. Fuck you."
Well, the study found that optimistic, extroverted people are way less cautious than grumps. It's the happy types who take more risks and are less aware of adverse consequences. They're the ones who dance in the rain and get struck by lightning. Or, more likely, do all the drugs and OD. Why worry about consequences when you're so sure the sun will come out tomorrow, no matter what? They'll keep believing that right until somebody zips up the body bag.
You know who you want to be like? The obsessive-compulsive, organized nerd. The person who carries an umbrella all summer, because you never know. When the researchers behind The Longevity Project dug into their data, they discovered a pattern:
Aside from these types, who get shot in the face more than others.
"The findings clearly revealed that the best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness -- the qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor -- somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree."
Do you hear that, free spirits? You're going to DIE YOUNG, just like you always wanted.
Some within a matter of a just a few blocks.