My intent to highlight people in our community that are passionate about their purpose is to provide examples of people who are living their best life. And we know at least by anecdote that these activities bring them joy and happiness. While this is all well and good, I wanted to look at this from a different angle today. My formal training as a scientist teaches me to analyze the data and let the data offer a factual picture. The scientific method prescribes the following process: 1. Problem/Question 2. Hypothesis 3. Gather data 4. Analyze the data and 5. Report the conclusion.
And so the research begins…
Did you know?
· In a study published in The Lancet, conducted by researchers from UCL, Princeton University and Stony Brook University they found that 9,050 English people with an average age of 65 found that the people with the greatest purpose were 30% less likely to die during the average eight and a half year follow-up period than those with less purpose.
· Researchers at Rush University in Chicago studied a sample of 1,238 peopled followed for five years (average age 78) and found that purposeful people were less likely to develop disabilities. They also reported that those with high purpose had roughly half the mortality rate of those with low purpose. Dr. Boyle’s team also found that the people with high purpose scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free from Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, they found that purpose slowed the rate of cognitive decline by about 30%.
· A 2009 study of over 73,000 Japanese men and women found that those who had a strong connection to their sense of purpose (which they call ikigai) tended to live longer than those who didn’t. Additionally, in his study of “Blue Zones” (communities in the world in which people are more likely to live past 100), Dan Buettner identified the factors that most centenarians share, one of them being a strong sense of purpose. In 2014, researchers used data that tracked adults over 14 years and found that "having a purpose in life appears to widely buffer against mortality risk across the adult years."
· Finally, according to a study by Drs. Randy Cohen and Alan Rozanski and colleagues at Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital in New York City reported that possessing a high sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduce risk for mortality and cardiovascular events.
So, the data is clear. Those of us that have a strong sense of purpose enjoy better health and wellness outcomes in addition to living a happy and joyful life. So let’s go out into the world and offer up your connection to a higher purpose and/or mission. The world will benefit and so will you!