Most of us want to live a long and healthy life. We exercise and eat well, try to keep stress at bay, and aim to get enough sleep. While all of these do promote better health, what’s often overlooked is the emotional wellbeing that is also linked to longer lifespan. Having a sense of life purpose may help you live longer, too.
Living to be 100 is a common hope for many of us. In a survey done by Stanford Center on Longevity, 77% of those polled reported they’d like to live to be a centenarian. Over one-third of those surveyed believed they’d live into their 90’s.
Research is discovering that having a sense of life purpose may help you live longer despite diseases like Alzheimer’s by allowing sufferers to continue functioning relatively well. Life purpose can also lower mortality risk by about 17 percent.
These findings have surprised many in the medical field as research into the field of wellbeing has become more prominent. Included in the findings that life purpose may help you live longer are both physical and emotional wellbeing benefits.
Physical Wellbeing Benefits
Included in the physical health benefits of those who report a strong sense of life purpose are fewer trips to the hospital, lower odds of developing diabetes, and over two times lower risk of dying from heart conditions. They are also more likely to keep up with general health maintenance, like staying active, getting their cholesterol checked, and having colonoscopies.
Another way that life purpose helps you live longer is by improving overall resilience to stress. Lower cortisol levels in the body lead to better health. Research indicates that those with a strong sense of life purpose have less stress overall and recovery faster when it does occur. This prevents the chronically high cortisol levels associated with many diseases. Those with lower stress also have lower inflammatory responses, which helps reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
Emotional Wellbeing Benefits
Activities such as volunteering, connecting with others, and being engaged in continuous learning are a few of the ways that having a sense of life purpose may help you live longer. Being a part of a faith community also plays a role. In general, having a reason to get up in the morning improves emotional wellbeing.
Lacking a purpose in life can lead to poor mental health. Depression and anxiety are common outcomes for those who struggle to find purpose in their work, life, or relationships. This lack of motivation can lead to inactivity and neglect of health, in stark contrast to those who have a strong life purpose.
While all of the correlations aren’t yet clear, having a sense of life purpose may help you live longer. Our emotional and physical health are intricately connected and are evident through this ongoing research into life purpose and its impact on longevity.
If you’re looking for ways to increase your sense of life purpose, consider volunteering, engaging in meaningful work, meditating regularly, joining a faith community, or even pursuing psychotherapy to improve your mental health. It may help you live longer!