When she visited Japan (which has the longest average life span in the world), Levy observed cultural attitudes about aging that differed quite a bit from those in the United States—namely, that growing old is a feat to be celebrated rather than feared. This inspired her to find out if she could scientifically correlate a link between positive beliefs about aging and longevity.
After some searching, she discovered two keys: "Fortunately, I found a dataset from Oxford, Ohio, and a sociologist named Robert Atchley had asked everybody in the town who was 50 and older to talk about a number of ideas, and one of them happened to be How do you think about aging? He actually measured their age beliefs in the 1970s."
The second source she found allowed her to quantify the effects of those beliefs–and the results were staggering: "I came across a dataset called the National Death Index, which keeps track of when everybody dies in the country. When I found out about that, I was able to match the beliefs that were expressed in this town of Oxford, Ohio, to how long they lived. We found that those who had taken in more positive age beliefs had a median survival that was 7.5 years longer than those who started this study and had taken more negative age beliefs." Translation? A positive view of aging may actually help you live longer.