Having a Purpose May Extend Your Life

My husband and I have a difficult time imagining getting up in the morning and not having a long list of things we want to accomplish. As we draw closer to what some people consider “retirement” years, instead of growing shorter, our list seems to grow longer. Why is that? Aren’t our “golden” years supposed to be filled with leisure?

Of course we’re looking forward to having more time with family and friends—especially the grandchildren. Some adventures and a little travel would be nice too. We’d like to spend time in Boston—maybe even take a trip to Italy and Spain. But, when all is said and done, we both need to be productive. We both desire to contribute our time and talents where needed.

My husband works for a large company where some employees have spent their entire lives manufacturing airplanes. The business has been good to Sonny; however, he still can’t wait for the day when he can turn in the badge that provides access to that world. He’s excited to see what comes next! But you’d be surprised how often fellow employees pass away soon after their retirement papers have been filed. Why? Because they’ve left the workforce with no vision of what their life could be like after going to the same destination for years. They have no purpose … or they believe they have no purpose.

In 2009, a study conducted by the Rush University Medical center in Chicago came up with the following conclusion: possessing a greater purpose in life is associated with lower mortality rates among older adults.

The finding that purpose in life is related to longevity in older persons suggests that aspects of human flourishing—particularly the tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences and possess a sense of intentionality and goal-directedness—contribute to successful aging. ~ Patricia A. Boyle, PhD

People who don’t seek purpose may have the following excuses:

  • What’s the point of trying anything new at my age?
  • There isn’t anything more to do in my life—I’ve done it all.
  • It’s a waste of time to set goals.
  • Anything I could do now would be trivial and unimportant.

Do you believe that’s true? For where you are now in life? Where you might be later?

For those of you not even close to showing gray hairs, this message is for you too. A sense of purpose in life contributes to better health, regardless of your age.

Every person on this planet has purpose and the ability to give something, even if it’s a smile or a word of encouragement to someone who needs a little cheering. Anyone who tries can find a reason for greeting the sunrise—even if that something at first is very small and difficult to perceive. 

If you don’t see purpose in your life, go search for it! Create it if you have to.

How might having a purpose or goal change the way you live your life?


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