How a Sense of Purpose Can Help You Live Longer

Seth Sawyers (CC BY 2.0)

Seth Sawyers (CC BY 2.0)

“Having goals in life and a sense of directedness; feeling there is meaning to present and past life; holding beliefs that give life purpose; having aims and objectives for living” can help you live longer.

Romeo Vitelli via Psychology Today:

a new research study published in the journal Development Psychology(link is external) demonstrates that having a purpose in life is especially important in successful aging.

Conducted by a team of researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, the study examined older adults who were part of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging(link is external)(ALSA). Started in 1992, ALSA has followed over two thousand older Australians for decades to examine how health, emotional well-being, and living conditions have changed over time and to identify factors involved in successful aging.

As part of the broader ALSA study, 1,475 adults were questioned about their sense of purpose in life and whether they had objectives they wanted to achieve. The people in the study were also questioned about their health history, cognitive ability (using tests of short-term memory and mental speed), depression, and how they viewed their health. They were then followed over an eighteen-year period with successive “waves” during which they were reinterviewed four more times.

Results showed that having a strong sense of purpose is positively correlated with more successful aging over the eighteen years of the study.

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