03 Jul How can I live longer? Researchers say the key to longevity may be simpler than we think
A New Year with its fresh blank slate beckons. This will be the year we go to the gym regularly, become vegetarian, stop smoking or drinking, we say, resolutions that may or may not stick. However, what if the path to a longer, healthier life does not lie at the gym or in the fridge at all, but in a higher calling?
People with a greater sense of purpose tend to engage in healthier lifestyle behaviors, ranging from eating their veggies to getting more exercise and even flossing their teeth (a good proxy for other healthy behaviors), according to a new study out of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
This all sounds pretty good — who doesn’t want a painless and inexpensive way to eat healthier and improve dental hygiene. But what, exactly, is the purpose? According to Patrick Hill, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University and the lead author on the study, the purpose is a variable concept. It is the “notion that you have daily activities you find meaningful or engaging and that give you direction for your life, reasons to continue going,” he told me.
Another way to think of this is as “a central, self-organizing life aim that organizes and stimulates goals, manages behaviors, and provides a sense of meaning,” according to a 2009 study in the Review of General Psychology. That study’s authors posit that while purpose can be closely aligned with one’s identity or sense of self, it can also be something you discover later in life. That’s good news for those of us who are trying to change bad habits that may feel hopelessly entrenched.
Even better, a sense of purpose is also linked to longer life. Psychotherapist Amy Morin, a lecturer at Northwestern University and author of the book, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” points to a 2014 study in the journal Psychological Science that suggested people who already have this motivated state of mind outlived their peers. “People who felt like their lives had meaning had a fifteen percent lower risk of death, compared to those who felt aimless,” Morin told me.
Source : https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/how-can-i-live-longer-researchers-say-key-longevity-may-ncna834981