Sense of purpose extends life

New research suggests having a sense of purpose can add years to our lives and promotes healthy ageing.

According to a study published in the Psychological Science journal, having a sense of purpose may see you living longer and ageing more healthily – regardless of what the purpose is.

Canadian researchers believe that purposeful people are more inclined to look after their health, and will therefore be fitter as they age.

In the study, 7,000 adults aged 20 to 75 years had their sense of purpose assessed by the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

  • Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.
  • I live life one day at a time and don’t really think about the future.
  • I sometimes feel as if I’ve done all there is to do in life.

Researchers then followed up on the study 14 years later and discovered that the purposeful participants had outlived their counterparts.

Sense of purpose extends life

These added years were unrelated to the person’s age, or whether or not they had retired.

Dr Patrick Hill, of the department of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, said having a sense of purpose (i.e. setting long-term goals that influence day-to-day activities and lifestyle) can also benefit overall health.

He said: “In this study it is mortality, but other studies have shown people report better health.

“There is clearly a benefit from feeling a sense of direction or feeling you have these goals directing your day-to-day life.”

Previous research has only highlighted a link between enhanced life and finding a sense of purpose in later years, but this new study sheds light on the impact it can have on younger ones.

Dr Hill added that regardless of when someone finds their purpose, the sense of direction and overarching goals it provides will help anyone to live longer.

If you would like to enhance your life and set goals for future achievements and fulfilment, you should consider life coaching. A coach can mentor you on growth and personal development in many different areas, including your career, family, and relationships.  

View and comment on the original BBC article. 

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Written by Tamara Marshall

Written by Tamara Marshall

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