If you find it difficult to adapt to distressing life situations like divorce or unemployment, your life expectancy could be lower. A study says that fluctuations in life satisfaction can be detrimental to your longevity.
The research finds that greater life satisfaction in adults older than 50 years of age is related to a reduced risk of mortality.
"Although life satisfaction is typically considered relatively consistent across time, it may change in response to life circumstances such as divorce or unemployment," says Julia Boehm, assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University in the United States.
"Some people may adapt more readily to new situations and thus appear to have relatively stable life satisfaction, and others may not adapt as quickly."
Variability in life satisfaction across time increases risk of mortality, but only among less satisfied people, according to the research, which studied nearly 4,500 participants who were followed for up to nine years.
In each year of the nine-year study, which appears in the Psychological Science journal, older men and women responded to the question, "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life?"
Responses range from zero to 10, with 10 indicating greater life satisfaction and the researchers assess both average life satisfaction across time and the variability in life satisfaction across time.
Over the course of the study, the researchers learn that as participants' life satisfaction increased, the risk of mortality is reduced by 18%.
By contrast, greater variability in life satisfaction is associated with a 20% increased risk of mortality.