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Handwritten autobiographies from 180 Catholic nuns, composed when participants were a mean age
of 22 years, were scored for emotional content and related to survival during ages 75 to 95. A strong
inverse association was found between positive emotional content in these writings and risk of mortality
in late life (p < .001). As the quartile ranking of positive emotion in early life increased, there was a
stepwise decrease in risk of mortality resulting in a 2.5-fold difference between the lowest and highest
quartiles. Positive emotional content in early-life autobiographies was strongly associated with longevity
6 decades later. Underlying mechanisms of balanced emotional states are discussed.
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