Wisdom says the best way to learn something is to talk to somebody who has already done it. So, if you want to learn how to live a Long Time, then the best people to speak with are people who have lived a long time.

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and University of Rome La Sapienza studied the life habits of a group of people in Italy who have lived well into their 90’s and who are still active.

They found similar traits and habits of people who have lived well into their 90’s and even over a 100 years old.

Here’s a Ted talk in which many similar traits of the centenarians of the Italian island Sardinia and the Cilento Region Of Italy are discussed.

How the research was conducted

The study subjects were all over 90, and they live in the rural Cilento region of Italy, located between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. The subjects were given a questionnaire and interviewed. Additionally, their children were also given questionnaires to get their observations about their parents.

The researchers also constructed a quantitative scale to rate their observations of the study subjects. In other words, they assigned a numerical rating for a specific set of traits for each person.

What researchers learned

What researchers learned was the long-lived people of the region had several psychological traits in common. The primary shared factors the people had were:

  • A positive outlook on life
  • They had a strong work ethic
  • They were described as having a stubborn attitude
  • They had developed strong relationships with their family, religion, and their land
  • Self-confidence and decision-making skills were also prevalent among the subjects

What the study subjects had to say was even more interesting

It was what the people had to say that really interested the researchers.

They all had similar outlooks on life. Many people could learn from the experiences and lessons learned from the study subjects.

For instance, one person said, “I think changes bring life and give chances to grow." This man’s wife of 70 years had recently died. Though he missed her greatly, he has a large extended family for support, and he was accepting of the changes in his life.

Another subject stated, “I am always active. I do not know what stress is. Life is what it is and must always be faced.”

Dr. Anna Scelzo, the first author of the study with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Chiavarese, Italy, said the subjects also tended to be domineering and they liked having a strong sense of control over their lives.

She said, “This tendency to control the environment suggests notable grit that is balanced by a need to adapt to changing circumstances.”

The study was published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, and is titled “Mixed-methods quantitative-qualitative study of 29 nonagenarians and centenarians in rural Southern Italy: focus on positive psychological traits.”