Posted on Sun, 20 Mar 11
"A useless life is an early death" wrote Goethe. Recent research suggests a sense of purpose in life may indeed be an important determinant of your health and wellbeing.
While it may seem logical that direction and purpose in life is important, only a few studies have explored this concept. One notable survey found that a sense of purpose in life strongly correlated with reduced risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Of those surveyed the people with the highest sense of life meaning were more likely to believe that they were capable of attaining goals, had a greater sense of religion, reported an ability to solve problems and had a higher level of social support.
Building on this finding another survey found that elderly people who had a strong sense of life purpose – as measured by agreeing with statements such as “I feel good when I think of what I have done in the past and what I hope to do in the future" and "I have a sense of direction and purpose in life” - had a 240% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The reason you get up in the morning may be more important than you think.
Skrabski A, Kopp M, Rózsa S, et al. Life meaning: an important correlate of health in the Hungarian population. Int J Behav Med. 2005;12(2):78-85.
Boyle PA, Buchman AS, Bennett DA. Purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk of incident disability among community-dwelling older persons. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010 Dec;18(12):1093-102.