NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Stay positive — it just might save your life. New research shows that being a positive-thinker can lead to protective benefits for the heart. The study found that people with a positive look at life had a reduced risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events.

But there’s a distinction between being optimistic and being content. The researchers note that simply not being sad or depressed does not mean you are happy. The people in their study who had better heart health genuinely saw the world more positively. “The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive,” said study author Julia Boehm, a research fellow in the department of society, human development and health at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

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Boehm and her team reviewed more than 200 studies on cardiovascular health, and found optimism and positive well-being not only better protected against heart disease, but having these traits improved other biological functions and lead to living a healthier lifestyle. Boehm said people with a more positive outlook on life and exercised more, ate healthier and slept better. Additionally, they were physically healthier, and were less likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or be obese.

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