The quest for long life, and a happy life, is as old as human civilization. Epic of Gilgamesh, from ancient Mesopotamia two millennia ago, is a story about a king’s search for immortality.

The answer seems never to be disclosed. Until a professor from California, Lewis Madison Terman, in the 1920s started a very long study to answer that ultimate question: what makes people live longer? This study still runs till today, 70 years after Terman first collected the data. And Terman’s successor, generation after generation, might continue this gold research until the next two thousand years, who knows. 

Terman and his colleagues found that the key to a long life is simple: a trait or a kind of personality. That is conscientiousness. This is a fancy word for being diligent, tidy, orderly, and persistent. Because, from this very trait, you can get many benefits. You will plan your life. You will have a purpose. You will get your plan done: by regular exercise, by doing your homework, by doing your customer’s or your boss’ order. The result: you will have a better career and a better life. And it leads to a longer life.

Terman’s research has been verified by many researchers. It has been replicated in many different ways. The conclusion is remarkably consistent. When you have a better conscientiousness score, you will gain a better chance to have a longer and better life. We are lucky to live right now, to have a definitive answer, from almost a hundred thousand data points from Terman’s study, the answer Gilgamesh looked for two millennia ago. 

What makes these 2 research great: This is golden research because it covers the same subjects for more than 70 years.

Beside the trait conscientiousness, these factors also bring you a greater chance to live longer:

First, if you often have great sex in your life. But, what makes you have great sex? If you have conscientiousness personality

What makes this research great: This is called longitudinal research. It followed same subjects for 10 years. It has more participants than Terman’s research.

What makes this research great: The subjects are randomly chosen to represent German population. With advanced statistical technique, small samples can represent very large population.

Second, if you have a purpose in your life, having a purpose is a sign of conscientiousness.

What makes this research great: The subjects are randomly chosen to represent German population. With advanced statistical technique, small samples can represent very large data.

Third, if you exercise regularly, but again, what makes you exercise regularly? If you have a conscientious personality.

Beside longer life, regular exercise has many advantages:

First, regular exercise increases your mental health and finally made you less stressed.

Second, regular exercise prevents you from many chronic diseases like diabetes.

Third, regular exercise prevents you from sitting too long, which reduces your life.

Tagged: