Research shows that having a strong sense of purpose can significantly benefit your health and promote longevity. Here’s the rather shocking evidence before I give you some tips about how you can maintain purpose.
Randy Cohen, a medical director of University Medical Practice Associates at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City reviewed data from ten studies involving 136,000 men and women to see the importance of purpose. It was found that people with a low sense of purpose, as measured by psychological surveys, were more likely to have a stroke, heart attack, or coronary artery disease requiring a stent or bypass surgery, whilst people with a high sense of purpose were less likely to have the same conditions
The findings also showed a 23 percent reduction in mortality and a 19 percent reduction in cardiovascular events among people with a sense of purpose. “What was so remarkable was that regardless of the country where the study was conducted, regardless of how purpose in life was defined, the effect was consistent,”
In 2014 a study found that people over age 65 who had a higher personal sense of purpose and well being were more likely to live longer. 9,000 participants were followed over an 8 ½-year period. The results showed that 9 percent of those in the highest well-being category died as compared to 29 percent in the lowest category.
In addition, according to Patricia A. Boyle, PhD, a neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Centre, “Purpose gives your brain resilience. It makes your brain stronger and more resistant to the effects of diseases like Alzheimer’s.”
According to four studies in the Rush Memory and Aging Project, participants who scored higher on the purpose scale were:
- 29 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
- 52 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
- 2 ½ times more likely to be free of dementia
- 44 percent less likely to have a stroke
- 52.3 percent less likely to have microscopic blood vessel infarcts that damage brain tissue
With statistics like these it would be wise to pay attention to the importance of having a sense of purpose in our lives!
So what is purpose?
Purpose is essentially a feeling of meaning, a feeling that we are making a difference, being productive in some way and that we have something to get up for. Humans need purpose with stimulation and challenge. In fact, our very survival has depended on it since day dot. We were not born to stay stagnant, we are here to grow.
Tips for getting a sense of purpose.
- Identify your individual qualities, skills and talents. You have many, even if you think you don’t. Slow down and take a few minutes to write them down. You could ask people you trust for their input too!
- Ask yourself how you can make a difference in the world using your individual qualities, skills and talents, considering each separately. There are many people looking for what you offer! Listen to what they are saying and looking for. What’s the gap you could be the solution for?.
- Become part of something bigger than yourself, whether that is a community, group or organisation etc. They can offer many roles that you might like to be part of. It will also allow you to build relationships, which can lead to new possibilities and opportunities.
- Volunteer your services or time to someone who needs it. Someone living alone might appreciate visits, a school might need a library or activity volunteer, charities are always looking for fundraisers, and communities never have enough helping hands. People need you. Reach out.
- Get creative! Making something, drawing, gardening, cooking, baking, etc. allows you to see the produce of your efforts, something you can be proud of. You might like to broaden your horizons and stretch your mind by taking up a hobby.
- Learn something new. Take a class or join a course. Your brain loves stimulation and will thank you for it.
- At the end of each day, review which activities have been “life-giving” and made you feel good. Become grateful and right them down. Reflection gives confirmation of productivity.
- Get out and experience life! You are here to live, not exist. You have so much to offer!
And to help you further, here is a gift from me to you, a FREE ebook: https://www.donnakennedy.com/#ebook There are some things in it that will help move you forward.
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