Everyone has a life purpose whether by default or by intent. Even animals have a purpose, which is mainly survival. The difference between ourselves and animals is that we have a highly develop cerebral cortex with nerve centres that are related to purpose and goal-striving.
Life purpose has become increasingly important for baby boomers and seniors. Transitioning from active work life to “retirement” is a very significant transition, much like the transition from childhood to adulthood. When the pension was originally introduced in 1909, life expectancy in Australia was only 56. 50 years ago it was only 67 for men. So in 1965, the average man only lived another 2 years after retirement. According to Australian studies, most babies born today are set to live to 100 or beyond.
This poses a question: What are we going to do with the last third of our lives? Many of us have enough years to pursue a new career. Unfortunately, many give up on a life purpose that will lead them to pursue something that really gives them a buzz. Finding your true values allows you to tap into your true purpose. We often ask people the question, “Would you love to live your life with purpose?” Invariably, people raise their hands in the affirmative. For many, however, it seems too hard. Here are 3 reasons why it’s important to identify and manifest your vision for the remainder of your years:
A life purpose inspires us because we are tapping into our innermost dreams and visions. It is this connection with our spirit that allows us to define a purpose. When you have defined your highest values, you are not only inspired but that inspiration leads you to your passion. You are more likely to act on your vision when you experience passion.
Inspiration is something beyond our physical and materialistic world. It is an intangible, but real just the same. Dr. John Demartini refers to it as “in spirit”. Regardless, when we are inspired it allows us to move from a metaphysical state to the physical and we can accomplish much in the short time, we have on earth. History is replete with inspired individuals who have achieved great things for humanity even in the latter part of life.
We’ve all heard of individuals who have had a “will to live” which has pulled them out of a traumatic event. There are others who are depressed and lose their will to live, sometimes taking their own life. Some have suggested that a strong life purpose can enhance longevity. Research in recent years appears to back this up.
In 2014, the Journal of Psychological Science reported on a 14-year study of 7000 individuals who were asked about their attitude to life purpose. The study found that those with a strong purpose on average lived longer. A study in Japan of 43,000 people followed over 7 years found that those with a strong life purpose or “Ikigai” were found to have a 12 percent increase in longevity.
Both mental and physical health can be influenced by having a purpose. Our belief is that a person who has a strong sense of purpose is focused; he or she knows where they are going and how they want to get there. When we are on a mission, we have less time to get sick and less time to wallow in emotional turmoil. We are in a sense “driven”.
There is lots of evidence that this is important to your health. A study done at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that individuals who considered their lives to have meaning and purpose had a significant reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. At a recent Lifestyle Conference of the American Heart Association, there was a report evaluating 10 studies on purpose – life meaning and direction – involving 137,000 people. The study confirmed that there is a 23% reduction in all types of cardiovascular illness when a person identifies with a strong purpose in their lives.
If you can determine what is important and inspiring in your life, you are well on the path to leading a more meaningful life for the rest of your years. There is nothing worse than living a life without meaning. When you near the end of your life are you going to appreciate that the world was somehow better because you were here or are you going to feel regretful about how your life turned out?
Give your life direction; it is too important not to.
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