Life is likely to last longer if it has a purpose and seems worthwhile, new research suggests.
Scientists found that pensioners with the greatest sense of well-being were 30pc less likely to die within a decade than those who were least satisfied.
Researchers measured "eudemonic well-being" - an emotional state that relates to feeling in control, doing something you think is worthwhile and having a purpose in life - in 9,000 English people with an average age of 65.
Over eight-and-a-half years, 9pc of people in the highest well-being category died compared with 29pc in the lowest.
Taking into account a range of factors that could influence health and life-satisfaction, participants with the highest levels of eudemonic well-being were 30pc less likely to die.
On average, they lived two years longer than those in the lowest well-being group.
Study leader Prof Andrew Steptoe, director of University College London's Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said: "We cannot be sure that higher well-being necessarily causes lower risk of death, but the findings raise the intriguing possibility that increasing well-being could help to improve physical health."
Scientists found that in the former Soviet Union and eastern European countries, older people had very low life satisfaction ratings compared with their younger neighbours.