Patricia Boyle, a neuropsychologist and an Alzheimer’s disease research specialist, believes that having a purpose in life enabled people to cope with the signs of the degenerative disease. Have you ever wondered as to what the purpose of your life is? Or, what your calling is? Finding your purpose can help you to lead a harmonious, healthier and more fulfilling life. The aim of this article is to provide you with some information about why and how you can find your purpose, protect your brain, enjoy better health, and live a happy life.
Researchers from Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center asked more than 900 older people who lived in residential communities to rate their agreement to a few statements on a scale of 1 to 5. The results of the study showed that having a high life purpose score was associated with several positive health outcomes such as less depression, better mental health, more happiness, more satisfaction, personal growth, better sleep, longevity and self-acceptance. In the seven-year period over which the study was conducted, 155 people of the 951 who participated developed Alzheimer’s disease. A detailed analysis, however, showed that those with high life purpose scores experienced lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment and slower rate of decline in cognitive functions in the old age.
Neuroscience points out that a person who does not have a defined purpose in life may have the indicators of poor health such as high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), inflammation markers, low levels of good (high density) cholesterol levels and abdominal fat. These factors work together to decrease the resilience of the brain towards degeneration and aging. Resilience of the brain is referred to as its ability to handle damage and function adequately. Therefore, if you are still not able to find your north star, then you can define and measure your purpose with the help of science.
Go through the statements below that were posed to the people in the study. Spending some time and thinking about these questions might help you to find your purpose in life.
- I feel good when I think of what I have done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.
- I live life one day at a time and do not really think about the future.
- I tend to focus on the present because the future nearly always brings me problems.
- I have a sense of direction and purpose in life.
- My daily activities often seem trivial and unimportant to me.
- I used to set goals for myself, but that now seems like a waste of time.
- I enjoy making plans for the future and working them to a reality.
- I am an active person in carrying out the plans I set for myself.
- Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them.
- I sometimes feel as if I have done all there is to do in life.
When you focus on finding your life purpose, it can be inspiring at times and overwhelming at some other times. This is to say that you might feel it to be a beacon of light and something that is not attainable at the same time. However, the first step that you have to take in this direction is to focus on yourself.
It is not possible to force a question for finding your purpose. You will get stuck if you put pressure on yourself to find an answer. The purpose has to find you. Often, it occurs to you suddenly when you are engaged in some work. Short-term fixes are just reactions to certain stimuli. To find out what you really want in the longer term, you need to take it a little slowly. You may feel that this is an indirect way of finding your purpose, but it can save you time and help avoid missteps.
Here are few steps that you can follow:
1. Do what you enjoy the most
What is it that you really enjoy doing? The things that you enjoy doing will make you to even forget time? Even if you can’t make a living out of these activities, keep an open mind. As soon as you find out as to what gives maximum pleasure, you can make it a part of your life.
2. Cut out things that drain you
Do less of those activities that drain your energy. Also, address common issues like health, stress, relationship challenges and lack of sleep.
3. Own your strengths as well as limitations
Focus on your strengths and do not punish yourself for your weaknesses. You can always outsource your weaknesses.
4. Get involved
You voluntarily take up some activities, take a class or join a club. This will help you to make some really good connections during the course of the process. Explore these activities for a few months, but do not have any expectations. This will help you to have a deeper understanding as to what can be meaningful to you.
5. Look for themes
You might have identified several meaningful areas, but might find it difficult to decide on which are to focus upon. You can evaluate as to how strongly you will fit into each of these areas by looking at the themes of your life.