Having a sense of purpose extends your lifespan

Having a sense of purpose extends your lifespan

A new study reveals that having a meaning and direction for being can save you from death.

What are you doing? And why are you doing it? Answering these simple questions may have profound consequences. A new study finds that people who have a clear sense of purpose in life live longer.

The definition, according to the study, of ‘purpose in life’ is the idea of having a sense of meaning and direction for being. Moreover, feeling that life is worth living also plays a huge part in having a sense of purpose.

It has long been known that there are links between psychological well being and lifespan. The new research is more definitive. It shows that having a high sense of purpose is associated with up to a 23 percent reduction in the chance of dying from any cause. In addition, there is a 19 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for a cardiac artery bypass surgery.

“Developing and refining your sense of purpose could protect your heart health and potentially save your life,” said Randy Cohen, MD, the lead author of the study, in a press release. “Our study shows there is a strong relationship between having a sense of purpose in life and protection from dying or having a cardiovascular event. As part of our overall health, each of us needs to ask ourselves the critical question of ‘do I have a sense of purpose in my life?’ If not, you need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being.”

Researchers from Mount Sinai St. Luke’s hospital and Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital (both in New York) presented the study on to the American Heart Association’s EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions in Baltimore on March 6.

“Prior studies have linked a variety of psychosocial risk factors to heart disease, including negative factors such as anxiety and depression and positive factors such as optimism and social support,” said Alan Rozanski, MD, one of the study’s co-authors and the Director of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System. “Based on our findings, future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant of health and well-being and assess the impact of strategies designed to improve individuals’ sense of life purpose.”

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