Emotional Longevity: What Really Determines How Long You Live

Book Review by Ruth Folit

Norman Anderson, PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, and his wife, P. Elizabeth Anderson, a health and fitness journalist, wrote a fascinating book,Emotional Longevity: What Really Determines How Long You Live. They reviewed the scientific research about different factors affecting health and longevity and synthesized the information into a coherent picture of how different facets of one’s life contributes to health and longevity. Their thesis is that one’s health-span and life-span are determined by more than just biological factors–such as one’s genes, healthy eating, exercise, and the physical purity of one’s environment. Interrelated dimensions including emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual, play an enormously important role, too.

The chapters about “Thoughts and Actions” were of special interest to me, of course, because they focused on how emotional disclosure improves health. Regarding writing, they recommend that you:

  • select topics that you feel need to be resolved, that are important to you, and may be difficult to express to others
  • write when you feel the need to–not necessarily everyday–and continuously for fifteen minutes or more
  • explore your deepest thoughts and feelings, describing what happened, how you feel about it, and why you might feel that way
  • not be surprised or repelled if initially some difficult feelings arise from writing, but to persist with writing because in the long-term, your emotional well-being should improve

I’d recommend this book to those who are looking for a full examination of ways to enhance their lives. The Andersons offer hundreds of well-researched and practical suggestions about how to increase your emotional well-being to live longer, healthier, and more satisfying lives.