I recently returned to my rural childhood home, where I hadn’t been for decades. I found I still had vivid memories of past events, even though buildings had decayed and schools were closed. I had a chance to catch up with those I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager: What were they doing with their lives? Were they fulfilling their dreams and achieving the purposes they had outlined years ago? How did they see themselves?
Each had a unique story – family, profession, children, marriage, all told with a sense of pride. No one mentioned age, only what seeds they had sown in life and how those seeds had grown and blossomed. Catching up with my friends, I found myself wondering how they could have achieved their goals there in that small town.
But what I realized is that people are unique in what drives them. And apparently researchers and psychologists agree: “What your purpose is does not matter, just to feel there is one could be enough.” Their conclusions from a 14-year study involving 6,000 people substantiate what you probably suspected all along: health and longevity correlate with keeping busy and living a life of purpose.
The important thing is, these research findings aren’t really new to most people. I find that Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th-century health researcher who was also a proponent of purpose in life, takes this line of thinking even further: “The purpose and motive to live aright can be gained now. This point won, you have started as you should.” Her idea of purpose tied health directly to a spiritual relation to God. “To live aright” suggests having a life purpose that has a spiritual component, and she proved that it leads to health, as researchers today are finding. One researcher indicated, “There’s something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater [health and] longevity.”
There is a broad pathway for health and longevity through keeping busy and having a meaningful purpose in life. And an important, added benefit to a life of purpose is that quality of life also increases. It is never too late to find your purpose in life. It doesn’t matter where you live. Living with meaningful purpose, many have gained direction, greater happiness, and increased longevity. You can, too.
photo © GLOW IMAGES. Model used for illustrative purposes.