Find your purpose for a long, healthy life
New research suggests that people who feel they have a “purpose” in life tend not only to be happier, but to live longer, too. Patrick Hill, a researcher in Ottawa, Canada, looked at middle aged and older Americans, scoring more than 6,000 people on their responses to statements like, “some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.” In a follow-up 12 years later, data showed that people who reported having a sense of purpose had a 15 percent lower risk of death than those who did not. Hill’s research also showed that a sense of purpose was more important than age, gender and emotional well-being in how strongly it correlated with longevity. Data also suggested that it didn’t matter at what age people discovered their purpose.
“Purpose,” of course, is subjective, but it didn’t seem to matter whether Hill’s subjects’ focus was creative (like writing a novel) or something more practical like raising a happy family, achieving career success, taking a major sojourn, or something else. For the purpose of the study, Hill described purpose as a “compass or lighthouse that provides an overarching aim and direction in day-to-day lives.” A sense of purpose may help protect against stress, which in turn can reduce inflammation and affect cardiovascular health especially.
Source: “People Who Feel They Have a Purpose in Life Live Longer,” by Patti Neighmond, NPR.org, July 26, 2014.
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