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What is Your Life Purpose?

I came upon this email from Learning Strategies Corporation, which is one of the best companies in the world (in my humble opinion). The study outlined below greatly stresses the importance to have something in your life that you’re here for and gives meaning. It could be running, being a great mom, healer, garbage man, etc., as long as you have a deep sense of purpose to it. Enjoy the article and let me know what your insights are from the questions listed at the bottom.

What's your life purpose? To inspire others to reach their goals? To promote a greener world? To help others heal with Qigong?

Whatever it is, a purpose-driven life could mean a longer life.

A group of researchers at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago has been tracking nearly 1000 people with an average age of 80 for seven years, assessing physical, psychological, and cognitive wellbeing. At the beginning of the study, participants were scored on their sense of purpose using statements like, "Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them," and, "I sometimes feel as if I have done all there is to do in life."

Participants who scored a higher sense of purpose were 2.4 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's than their lower scoring peers – even if their brains showed physical signs of the disease.

"Even for people developing plaques and tangles in their brains, having purpose in life allows you to tolerate them and still maintain your cognition," says neuropsychologist Patricia Boyle, an author of the study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The perks of purpose don't stop there. Purposeful people also had a 30 percent lower rate of cognitive decline, a lower risk of diabetes, and were less likely to die.

A separate study from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center followed over 1,200 participants with an average age of 78 over five years. Those who scored a higher purpose had nearly half the mortality rate as their less purposeful peers. Researchers controlled other factors that could increase wellbeing, including social relationships, depression, disability, and demographics. They determined that purpose stood alone as a major factor in increased life quality and expectancy.

People "want to make a contribution," says Boyle. "They want to feel part of something that extends beyond themselves...a sense of their role in the community and the broader world."

You can reap the benefits of knowing and living your life purpose at any age. "The clearer you are about your purpose and the more your emotions and beliefs are aligned with it, the more likely it is you will attract what you desire," says Jack Canfield, author of our Effortless Success course. To clarify your life purpose, he recommends the following exercise:

  1. Think of two personal qualities that others most appreciate about you (i.e., enthusiasm, joy, creativity).

  2. Consider the way you most enjoy expressing each of these two qualities. For example, you may enjoy singing, building things, or teaching.

  3. Visualize your perfect world. Envision how people close to you are interacting, and imagine how you feel living in such a world.

  4. Write a statement in the present tense describing this perfect world – how it looks, feels, sounds, smells, and tastes.

  5. Draw upon everything you thought, felt, and expressed in the first four steps. If you were to draw, paint, or sculpt an image of your life purpose, what would it look like?

You can repeat this exercise as often as you'd like. It is okay if you are not completely clear about your life purpose at this point. Once it is clear, revisit your life purpose daily to keep living it!

Trent Corey PT, DPT

Find Yourself Running, LLC

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