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A sense of purpose in life may help you live longer

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A lot of people are searching for a purpose in life. Defining such a purpose in life may have a positive impact on your health. In fact having a sense of purpose may actually add years to your life reported the Association for Psychological Sciences on May 12, 2014.

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Researchers have found that feeling that you have a sense of purpose in life may help you live longer no matter what your age may be. Lead researcher Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada says this research has clear implications for promoting positive aging and adult development. Hill shares that this research shows finding a direction for life and setting high goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when in life you find your purpose.

Previous research has suggested that finding a purpose in life decreases risk of mortality above and beyond other factors which are known to predict longevity. However, Hill has pointed out that almost no research examined whether the benefits of purpose vary over time, such as across varying developmental periods. Hill and colleague Nicholas Turiano of the University of Rochester Medical Center explored this question.

The researchers studied data from over 6000 people and focused on their self-reported purpose in life. During the 14-year follow-up period 569 of the people had died. Among those who had died there were reports of a lower purpose in life and fewer positive relations than among survivors. Feelings of a greater purpose in life were found to consistently predict lower mortality risk across the lifespan.

Hill said these findings have suggested that there’s something unique about finding a purpose in life that appears to be leading to greater longevity. The researchers are now investigating whether having a purpose in life might lead people to adhere to healthier lifestyles, which would therefore boost longevity.

This research has been published in the journal Psychological Science. Feeling a purpose in life has been consistently noted as an indicator of healthy aging for several reasons, including the potential for lowering mortality risk. Having a purpose in life has been found to widely protect against mortality risk during a lifetime. It is significant that a purpose in life predicts longer lives for younger and older adults alike. Religious people often feel they have a purpose in life and they therefore could be looking towards longer lives than people who have no purpose in life.

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