Do you have a long-term goal in life? A study at Carleton University in California shows that merely picking the right purpose in life can help you live longer and healthier.
The main lesson of the research is that having a goal, almost no matter what you choose, is a health-booster.
“Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” says researcher Patrick Hill. “So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”
Hill and colleague Nicholas Turiano of the University of Rochester Medical Center used data from 6,000 people in the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study to analyze how having a purpose in life changed longevity. They examined people’s reported purposes in life and factored in other characteristics of their personalities.
The study shows that having a purpose in your life is good for your health at any age.
“To show that purpose predicts longer lives for younger and older adults alike is pretty interesting, and underscores the power of the construct,” Hill says.