Empty life is not just about having nothing to do, but also having nothing to think about or to wish to achieve. Having a strong purpose in life, is in itself an idea that will empower one, inspires hope and injects energy and health.
However, one should not confuse between hardworking and purposeful life. Here’s an example: if you work 40 hours per week, this still doesn’t necessarily mean that your life has a purpose.. in the same context, working less than 20 hours per week doesn’t mean your life is empty.. the main indicator in both cases in having a reason to live for..
Recent studies reveal that having a strong purpose in life may have not only mental benefits, but also physical ones.
The study which was published days ago in the journal JAMA Network Open, suggests that purposeful living is linked to decreased risk of early death in those older than age 50.
The study which was conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed data from nearly 7,000 people older than 50 who were enrolled in a national study that began in 1992 and who filled out a psychological questionnaire in 2006.
According to Live Science, the participants were asked to rank how strongly they felt about statements such as “I enjoy making plans for the future and working to make them a reality” and “my daily activities often seem trivial and unimportant to me”; the people were then given a “life purpose score.” The researchers then compared these scores with mortality rates of the participants over the next five years. During that time, 776 of the participants died.
Participants with the lowest life-purpose scores were more than twice as likely to die during the follow-up period, compared with participants with the highest life-purpose scores, the study found. In particular, those with lower life-purpose scores were more likely to die from heart or blood conditions.
The researchers took into account certain factors that could affect people’s sense of life purpose or their risk of death, such as whether the participants had depression.
“There seems to be no downside to improving one’s life purpose, and there may be benefits,” said lead author Aliya Alimujiang, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “Previous research has suggested that volunteering and meditation may improve psychological well-being.”
There are several possible reasons why having a life purpose might extend life span. Past studies have shown that stronger well-being, including purposeful living, decreased the activation of genes that trigger inflammation linked with an increase in risk of early death.
Researchers noted to another study which found that a stronger purpose in life was linked to lower levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol and lower levels of inflammatory molecules in the body.