Is Losing the Secret to a Longer Life? The Surprising Link Between Success and Longevity

It might surprise you to learn that winning prestigious titles and awards doesn’t always equate to a longer lifespan. In fact, it may even shorten it.

Let’s dive into some examples:

Presidents and Vice Presidents

When you think of politicians, you may imagine those who’ve reached the highest offices in their country, such as the President or Vice President. These individuals have achieved significant levels of success and influence, but you might be shocked to find out that their win might cost them later in life. Research from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health discovered that on average, winning the Presidency lowers your life expectancy by 5.3 years when compared to the candidates who didn’t win. This trend holds true for Vice Presidential winners as well.

Emmy Award Winners

When it comes to Emmy Awards, it seems that acting winners enjoy an advantage, while writing winners face a disadvantage. The Mailman School of Public Health’s research found that actors who win an Emmy also gain 2.7 more years of life than nominees who don’t receive the award. However, the same study found that Emmy-winning screenwriters have a life expectancy that is three years shorter than their non-winning counterparts.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Unlike the other examples, being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t significantly affect a player’s life expectancy. Hall-of-Fame inductees were found to have approximately the same lifespan as players who don’t get the honor of being enshrined in Cooperstown.

Why doesn’t winning always align with a longer life?

These examples directly contradict the common belief that becoming successful in one’s field can lead to a longer life. Instead, it begs the question: what could be the factors that cause these disparities in life expectancy for winners and non-winners?

Let’s take a closer look at them:

  • Stress: It’s no surprise that holding high-ranking roles like the Presidency or Vice Presidency often come with high levels of stress. Constant stress can cause the body to produce cortisol, a hormone connected with a myriad of health issues, including heart disease and cognitive difficulties. The Mayo Clinic explains that the long-term activation of the stress-response system can cause the body to break down, posing serious health risks.

  • Expectations: Emotionally, the burden of living up to the high expectations associated with one’s success can be intense, especially for those in the public eye. This strain can also impact their overall well-being and potentially shorten their lives.

  • Lifestyle: For some award winners and highly accomplished individuals, there can be a dark side to their success. It’s not uncommon for these individuals to experience significant lifestyle changes, which can negatively affect their health. They might suffer from a lack of sleep due to demanding schedules, engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse, or accumulate bad habits that ultimately deteriorate both their mental and physical health.

Additionally, high-achieving individuals might struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, leading to challenges in personal relationships or increased stress.

Finding a balance for a longer, healthier life

Clearly, scoring prestigious titles and awards isn’t a guaranteed ticket to a longer lifespan. Instead, it’s crucial to find ways to manage the stressful and potentially unhealthy aspects of a successful life. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining balance:

  1. Prioritize self-care: Ensure that you are taking care of both your physical and mental health by making self-care routines a priority. This could include exercise, mindfulness, journaling, or spending time with loved ones.
  2. Say no when necessary: Set boundaries to protect your well-being. If certain commitments or situations are causing undue stress, it’s okay to politely decline or step back when necessary.

  3. Seek support: Surround yourself with a strong support network, including friends, family, and mental health professionals. Discuss your stressors and challenges with these individuals to help alleviate anxiety or receive guidance.

  4. Stay grounded: Remember that success is just one part of life, and it shouldn’t be the sole focus. Keeping a balanced perspective can help you stay grounded and connected to what truly makes you happy, leading to a longer and more satisfying life.

In conclusion, winning prestigious titles and awards doesn’t always correlate with living longer. Instead, focus on maintaining a healthy balance, prioritizing self-care, and managing stress to give yourself the best chance at a long, happy life.