The power of purpose

What do you do to promote your own health? Do you make sure that you exercise at least four times a week at moderate intensity? Maybe you eat only whole foods and eat organic wherever possible? Do you do a yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi class a few times a week? Are you training yourself in the art of mindfulness at every opportunity? It is wonderful if you are doing all of those things but according to a new study you might be doing all of those and still be missing a vital component of a healthy life.

The new study was a “meta-analysis”, meaning that it brought together findings from many other previous studies. In this case ten previous studies were included that involved in total more than 137,000 people. The purpose of all of these studies was to discover if having a sense of purpose in life had any impact on health and death rates.

For the purpose of this and other studies a “sense of purpose” is defined as having “meaning and direction” in life and feeling that “life is worth living”. As a result of analysing the data from all ten studies the researchers found that a high sense of purpose is associated with a 23 per cent reduction in risk of death from all causes and a 19 per cent reduction in risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for coronary bypass surgery.

If you are doing all of the healthy things mentioned above then it is likely, although not certain, that you will have some sense of purpose. These researchers however, suggest that if you don’t have a sense of purpose then for the sake of your wellbeing you should work toward having one.

In essence, having a strong sense of purpose in life helps protect against dying or having a cardiovascular event. That of course, is quite a different thing from having a “strong scent of porpoise” which is quite awkward and socially unacceptable, unless you are a porpoise. Of course, if you are a porpoise with a purpose…then the world is yours.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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