Will a purpose-oriented life help you live longer? – Harvard Medical Letters


Do you find joy in volunteering, helping your grandmother, or learning new skills in the classroom you are taking?

If you say yes, it can help you live longer. As it turns out, being aware of things in your life will not help your emotional well-being – it will keep you healthy.

In 2019 JAMA Network Open The study found that a group of about 7,000 adults over 50 years of age, those who are at the highest of a "life purpose" measure are likely to die during the four years of study. They were also more likely to die during the same period of heart, circulatory, or blood conditions, compared with those in the low.

"There have been several studies showing that a high sense of purpose in life is associated with an increased risk of early death," said Eric S. Kim, PhD, a research scientist at the department of sociology and culture at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "However, this study has shown for the first time that the sense of purpose in life is related to the specific causes of death, and that is a development of knowledge."

Defining a purposeful life

So, what exactly is the purpose of life? The purpose of life is explained differently by different people. But it generally shows that you have a purpose in life and goals. For this purpose, the authors of the study said, it will help to make you more involved in behaviors that are good for your health. Some studies have simply asked people what gives them meaning to life, Kim said. People list such articles as

  • family and relationships
  • community
  • helping others
  • learning new skills
  • participating in leisure activities or hobbies.

I defined it as the degree to which people experience life as a guide and motivation for the goals of a meaningful life, Kim said.

In this study, having a higher life expectancy was associated with lower mortality rates during the study period overall, from cardiovascular disease, as well as digestive conditions.

However, no purpose in life was difficult to prevent study participants from all medical conditions. Investigators found no mortality rates for cancer, tumors, or conditions affecting the respiratory tract. It is also important to note that the study is not evidence that having life goals resulted in lower mortality rates observed in the study.

This was a well-conducted observational study. But there are limited resources available in studies of this type of design, because they cannot know the cause, Kim said.

How does the purpose of life maintain your health?

There are several reasons for thinking that having a purpose in life can help improve your health. We are currently working on a review article on this topic and found literature that indicates that the purpose of life works in three important ways,

These include the following:

  • It is possible for you to maintain your health. For example, you may be healthier, sleep better, exercise more, or increase your use of preventive services.
  • It can reduce stress. – There is evidence from laboratory studies and follow-up studies with people over time that suggest that people with high-purpose goals in life tend to be less stressed, and recover faster when they are stressed, Kim said.
  • It can reduce swelling. Investigators are linked to inflammation and heart disease and other medical conditions. Stress is known to cause inflammation in the body, so reducing stress can help reduce inflammation.

Finally, life-purpose activities are likely to have a holistic view of life itself, Kim said. "One caveat is that there are important studies that show no connection between a sense of purpose in life and some of these factors, so this is still an active area of ​​research."

A purpose with & # 39; not? Strategies to help

If you feel that you are unsuccessful, finding new opportunities can help. Take a look at activities and roles that will give you a reason to get up every morning. Some research has found that volunteering is a valuable option for many people.

But if you feel stuck, do not be afraid to seek help.

Kim says, "There is evidence that, specifically treating cognitive behavioral disorders, can enhance a meaningful sense of life, as well as the meaning of life, as a concept, as a relative," Kim said.

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