If you're a Tonic reader, rejoice! Positive, energetic people who are involved with the world around them may actually live longer.

According to an article in Science Daily, a new study shows that "extroverts, and in particular those high "dispositional activity" or engagement in life, have dramatically lower levels of the inflammatory chemical interleukin 6 (IL-6). Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung defined extroverts as focused on the world around them and most happy when active and surrounded by people.

Lower levels of interleukin may mean less likelihood of developing inflammatory diseases, which include rheumatoid arthritis Alzheimer's disease, and even arteriosclerosis. In fact, inflammation even contributes to clogged arteries, heart attacks and strokes.

Stress is one major cause for higher levels of interleukin. That's because long-term exposure to hormones released by the brains of people under stress can have a negative impact on organs. Injury to the organs causes a reaction from the body's immune system, including the release of immune chemicals that trigger inflammation as they begin the healing process. Often, these immune chemicals can actually cause more problems than they solve.

While researchers haven't proven a cause-and-effect relationship between positive, outgoing personalities and low levels of interleukin, they have shown a strong association. In fact, in aging women, low levels of extraversion "may signal that blood levels of a key inflammatory molecule have crossed over a threshold linked to a doubling of risk of death within five years."

It's not clear whether positive energy lowers stress hormones, or whether stress hormones actually impact personality. It does seem to be possible, though, to lower your interleukin levels through physical activity. "Beyond physical activity, some people seem to have this innate energy separate from exercise that makes them intrinsically involved in life," [one researcher] said. "It will be fascinating to investigate how we can increase this disposition toward engagement. Potentially, you might apply techniques developed to treat depression like 'pleasurable event scheduling' to patients with low dispositional energy, where you get people more involved in life by filling their time with things they enjoy as a therapy."

by Lisa Ro Judy of Tonic. Lisa Ro Judy is a veteran freelance writer living in Cape Cod, Mass.

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