How latecomers lead long, healthy lives

A Harvard study says people who are always running late live longer healthier lives. So is being laidback better than being disciplined?

Experts say people who are always late are less stressed

Most of us are taught that discipline is the only way to a healthy life.

However, a study by Harvard researchers says people always running late tend to live longer and healthier.

The science behind this is simple: people who are always late are less stressed; they are either less or not at all concerned about deadlines.

This makes them generally more relaxed and leads to lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and depression---all of which can prolong life.

But being laidback about schedules is not always possible, especially if you are in the police, the armed forces, and the medical and teaching fraternity.

Ruchi Gupta, consultant psychiatrist, St Philomena’s Hospital, explains everyone is born with a primary dominant temperament and a secondary one.

“People with a melancholic temperament are perfectionists—very organised and punctual, and have goals they stick to. Those with a sanguine temperament are more right brain-dominated. They are more creative, jovial and gets involved in things in a way that they lose a sense of time,” says Ruchi.

Each temperament has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, a perfectionist is not always at an advantage: the temperament can be disabling when she expects others to be as organised and efficient. Similarly, people with a sanguine personality might be happy-go-lucky but also irresponsible and unreliable.

‘Confusing study’

Shreya Chatterjee, consultant psychologist, Mindscape Clinic, agrees with the drift of the study, although she says it might confuse people.

“I see a lot of patients for whom time is one of the major reasons for anxiety. They feel the need to be on time. They have a feeling that if they are not being able to be productive, they are wasting time. This human obsession of utilising every single moment actually takes away the joy of living. I feel it is all right for people to be a little late once in a while,” she says.

Balance out life

“We should put out discipline in places where time is considered a resource like in professions like military and medicine but in other places where time is just another parameter, for example, reaching office on time, finishing a conversation or a meal, we can afford to let go a little,” says Shreya.

For her, being disciplined is not just about being punctual. It is about respecting other people’s time.

It is all about dealing with stress

Grand Master Akshar, yoga guru, says stress releases negativity. When under stress, the hormones released are like poison. This negatively affects the body and impacts lifespan.

“In this study, people who are not punctual are not easily stressed. Their outlook on life is more relaxed. Hence this negative effect doesn’t affect them. That said, people who are able to achieve punctuality without stress will also enjoy the fruits of a longer life,” he explains.

Akshar says discipline is all about living life to its fullest potential. “The potential of a human being can be achieved with discipline, but it works only if a person is doing it willingly and is not forced into it. Force brings negative stress which is not good for mind, body and soul,” he explains.

Letting go sometimes is a must, as it brings flexibility in life. “I do make changes but only subtle ones that my mind and body recognise and respect,” he told Metrolife.  

What does the study say?

According to a study by Harvard Medical School, an optimistic outlook can positively impact health and life expectancy. Most of those who are always late have less or no concern about deadlines, instead, they have unrealistic expectations about what they can get done in a limited amount of time. With high optimism, they have fewer chances of being affected by depression. They enjoy cardiovascular health and aren’t affected by blood pressure---all factors leading to a stress-free life.

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How latecomers lead long, healthy lives

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