The Surprising Benefit of Having a Life Purpose

emotional health physical health Jan 28, 2021
Heidi Zwart

We all want to live a long and healthy life. We hope that by exercising and eating well, keeping stress at bay, and getting enough sleep, we'll make it to a ripe old age. What if I told you that having a sense of life purpose may help you live longer, too?

In a survey done by Stanford Center on Longevity, 77% of those polled reported they’d like to live to be a centenarian and over one-third believed they’d live into their 90’s. While physical and emotional health does contribute to longevity of life, interesting research is surfacing that indicates having a sense of life purpose may help you live longer, too. 

People who suffer from Alzheimer’s, for example continue to function relatively well if they have a sense of life purpose. And, in general, those with meaning in their life can 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. A sense of life purpose has both physical and emotional wellbeing benefits.

Physical Wellbeing Benefits 

  • Fewer trips to the hospital.
  • Lower odds of developing diabetes.
  • Over two times lower risk of dying from heart conditions.
  • More likely to keep up with general check-ups, like getting cholesterol checked and having colonoscopies.
  • Make physical fitness a priority.  
  • Improves overall resilience to stress by lowering cortisol levels in the body.
  • Have less stress overall and recover faster from stressful events.
  • Prevention of chronically high cortisol levels associated with many diseases.
  • Lower inflammatory responses, which helps reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

Emotional Wellbeing Benefits

  • Mood improvement through volunteering and connecting with others.
  • Engagement in continuous learning.
  • Having a reason to get up in the morning.
  • Sense of achievement, progress and completion.
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Improves relational wellbeing and connection with one another.  

What's so interesting about these findings is that science is confirming the significance of faith. While much of this research doesn't indicate what people believe and where their sense of purpose comes from, if you're a Christian you know exactly where it comes from!

It doesn't mean you don't struggle with physical or emotional health challenges, but it does mean that your sense of meaning and purpose is likely to impact the length of your time on earth (and I'm not going to get into the theology of that one!). 

On our podcast episode this week, our guest talks about the amazing intersection of neuroscience and our faith. This conversation is another example of how science and faith corroborate each other more often than we think. 

So, keep taking care of your physical and emotional wellbeing with your life purpose in mind. 

It just might extend your life. 

 

Listen to this week's podcast episode => Cutting Through the Mental Chaos

 

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