By Ken DeLeon
While I generally author real estate articles in the DeLeon Insight, this time I want to mention an amazingscientific study that unveils a new blueprint for enhanced living and explains how the right mindset and a sense of purpose result in a longer, more fulfilling life. An excellent article recently published by NPR, “What’s Your Purpose? Finding A Sense of Meaning in Life Is Linked to Health” is based on the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and is the inspiration for this piece. The HRS is a national cohort study that assessed purpose in life in adults over 50 years old and their spouses or partners with a sample size of 6,985 individuals. I want to share the incredible findings of this study and demonstrate how powerful and arguably essential it is to have your own life’s purpose.
Scientific clinical research conducted within the past decade proves that having a strong purpose in life improves a myriad of meaningful health metrics such as lowering depression rates, stroke incidence, diabetes, sleep disturbances, and more. The HRS found that having a strong life purpose greatly decreases the risk of premature death. And the statistics are shocking – in the study group, those who had a strong life purpose were less than half as likely to die versus those who had a weak life purpose during the 13-year evaluation.
To determine whether a person had a strong life purpose, the HRS used a questionnaire from the modified Ryff and Keyes Scales of Psychological Well-being evaluation. As an example, in the Japanese studies, participants were asked if they have “ikigai,” which translates to “a reason for being or something to live for.” Having a “raison d’etre” gives one the will to live on and persevere. My 98-year-old grandmother is always smiling everywhere she goes, and I feel that her inherent optimism and love of life is the secret to her longevity and youthful energy. Even during my tenures at the Stanford Cancer Center, I noticed that patients like myself who have a greater life purpose recovered more quickly.
Obesity, alcohol, and smoking are widely considered to be the major controllable yet high-risk mortality factors. However, the results of the study empirically prove that having a purpose in life is more important for decreasing the risk of death than exercising regularly or not drinking or smoking. This means that it has never been more important to have a strong life purpose. While we cannot cheat death, we can certainly alter time by pursuing an important goal we want to achieve.
There is a universality in having a strong life purpose resulting in a much lower mortality rate. The HRS found that this association remained true regardless of race, gender, wealth, or educational level. Within this universality, there is transcendence beyond judgment. What is key, according to the researchers, is not what your sense of purpose is, but simply, that you have a sense of purpose. Dr. Celeste Pierce at the University of Michigan, one of the study’s authors, states, “Where your fulfillment comes from can be very individualistic… For some, it might be raising children. For others, it might be doing volunteer work.”
My own sense of purpose has grown exponentially stronger with each tragedy I have experienced and with every hardship I have overcome. It is no coincidence that I have managed to escape death and beat cancer twice through my overwhelming positivity and strong desire to leave behind a legacy. Now there is finally science behind the magic. Now is the time for you, my dear reader, to lead a more joyous and prosperous life by following your heart and chasing your deepest dreams.
Not only will finding or following your purpose make life more pleasurable, but it will also increase your lifespan and amount of time you have to turn your dreams into reality. The ability to seek purpose in life is the component of mortality that you can most sway your way and, by doing so, will have the most impact upon your life! The world is a blank canvas; it is time for you to paint your own masterpiece. When I next discuss how I used my tragedies for subsequent growth, let my experiences be a mirror to reflect your own greatness when you have an adverse life event. Use hardship as a springboard to hurdle over obstacles. Carpe Diem!
Footnote: Any scientific conclusions in this article are drawn from the scientific
study cited below: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2734064?utm_