Purposeful people have longer and more satisfying lives

PurposefulPeopleLongerLifeHaving a sense of purpose may add years to your life–and that benefit can be realized throughout old age. That’s the conclusion of a comprehensive, long-term study that tracked the physical and mental health of more than 6,100 Americans aged 20 to 75 for 14 years.

The result of the long study was published in the journal Psychological Science and was widely reported earlier this year.

Previous research has shown purposefulness to be one of the strongest predictors of longevity, but this is the first time its impact on mortality has been isolated from other influences, said The Week. At the outset, participants’ sense of purpose was assessed according to their response to statements such as “Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.” They also answered questions about their emotional state and the quality of their relationships. Over the 14-year study period, 569 participants died, and every one of those who died scored measurably lower than their counterparts when it came to purposefulness.

The findings held, even after controlling for factors such as positive outlook, suggesting that PURPOSE itself drives longevity!

Although the study didn’t address such issues as diet, prescription drugs and environmental factors, the contribution of purposefulness to longevity make good sense. Specifically addressing old age, consider retirees who no longer have the workplace as a source for organizing daily events. We have all known retirees who “wander aimlessly”–to the television, to the casino, etc. On the other hand, we admire those who say “I don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish the things I want to get done!” It might be gardening, woodwork, quilting, writing, volunteering at a church, thrift shop or pet shelter–or combinations of them.

The same thing with a broken relationship or loss of a loved one. Some people will wallow in misery for years; others will grieve, but get on with life. There are always things to be done and ways you can make a difference–every day, at any age.

That’s what purposefulness is all about.


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