Finding your purpose in life is a process—but one that science says is well worth it. Researchers recently found that when people feel like their lives have meaning, they tend to live longer.
Looking at the Facts
Growing evidence indicates that having a strong purpose improves both your physical and mental well-being. Now, this new study links sense of purpose with an increased lifespan and a decreased risk of dying of heart, circulatory, and blood conditions.
So how exactly does a philosophical concept like “sense of purpose” cross into the medical world of life expectancy? It’s still a bit of a mystery.
Some suggest that people who have a strong purpose in life adopt healthier habits, and that’s what helps them live longer. But it may go deeper than that. One research team found that certain aspects of purposeful living might be associated with decreased activity in genes that promote inflammation.
No matter the explanation, there’s a connection between knowing your purpose and living a longer life.
Making Life Meaningful
Everyone probably has their own idea of what purposeful living looks like. Generally speaking, though, it can be defined as having goals that help bring importance and direction to your life.
The thought of tackling your life’s purpose all at once is a little overwhelming. It’s OK to start smaller—maybe it’s best to first look beyond yourself. This advice might seem counterintuitive for those trying to find their purpose. But serving others through volunteer work, or simply playing with your kids, is incredibly fulfilling and can add meaning to everyday moments.
Other strategies include:
- Quieting your mind. Research shows that something as simple as meditation can help improve purpose in life. If you’re new to the practice, remember that it’s just that—practice. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find Zen the very first try.
- Remembering what matters most. In the good times and the bad, don’t lose sight of what makes you uniquely you. Find meaning in yourself, and the rest is sure to follow.
Sources: Association Between Life Purpose and Mortality Among U.S. Adults Older Than 50 Years, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, The Three Meanings of Meaning in Life: Distinguishing Coherence, Purpose, and Significance, The Value of a Purposeful Life: Sense of Purpose Predicts Greater Income and Net Worth, American Heart Association