If you’re like me, you realize at mid-life that you want to live a long and full life. How can you do that?
Well, of course, you can hope that you have longevity in your genes. For instance, one new study found that people with a gene known as CETP have a better chance of living into their 90s and even 100s. Researchers have found that this gene is involved in cholesterol metabolism and helps boost the level of HDL (the good) cholesterol.
However, you’re still in luck, even if you don’t have this gene. That’s because researchers are identifying other factors that are within your control that also play a role in your longevity. One of those is living a purpose-filled life.
For instance, one study out of Canada looked at data related to life’s purpose and emotional well-being that was collected from more than 6,000 study participants. These researchers found that participants who described a greater sense of purpose and direction had a 15-percent lower risk of death over a 14- year period than those whose life wasn’t as focused. Furthermore, the researchers determined that the exact point when a person found a sense of direction didn’t matter; they just needed to identify and follow that direction. This direction could range from being family-oriented to working on a societal cause to being creative.
A second study out of Britain also found that people who had the highest levels of purpose in life were 30 percent less likely to die during the period of the study. These participants also lived an average of two years longer than participants who had lower levels of purpose.
Some researchers hypothesize that having a strong purpose in life also translates into better self-care. In a study of 7,168 Americans who were 50 years of age and older, researchers found that participants who scored the highest on a survey measuring the purpose in life – meaning they believed their life had direction and meaning -- were more likely to have screenings such as colonoscopies and mammograms during the next six years. Researchers found that approximately 75 percent of study participants had a cholesterol test; however, the scientists also found that for each one-point increase on the purpose scale translated into an 18-percent increase of the participant getting this test.
However, finding a purpose in mid-life can be challenging. Dr. Andrew Weil noted that many people face issues when they reach this part of their life. These issues can include discontent with life and lifestyle, boredom, a need to feel adventurous and do something completely different, questioning the meaning of life, and confusion about their individual needs and their life. Psychology Today recommended thinking about the mid-life transition in four stages:
- Accommodation, through presentation of ourselves as different people based on our situation.
- Separation through rejecting a personae, even if only temporarily.
- Reintegration, through learning about your true identity and adopting a more appropriate persona.
- Individuation, through recognizing and integrating the conflicts within us and achieving a balance.
So how do you find a purpose in life when you’ve reached middle age? Life Coach Shannon Kaiser suggested ruminating on the following three questions to identify our life’s purpose: Who am I? What do I went? How do I get there? Kaiser also suggested connecting your values to your specific skills, talents and strengths. She advocated for taking small steps to identify your heart’s calling. Finally, she encouraged taking small steps each day toward your goals.
That brings me to a second question that you may have: Can you find a purpose when you’ve reached middle-age? The answer is yes, but you need to follow Dr. Weil’s prescription of taking the time and expending the energy to find greater satisfaction and pleasure in your life.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Kaiser, S. (2014). 3 questions to ask yourself to find your life purpose. Huffington Post.
MedlinePlus. (2014). ‘Longevity gene’ one key to long life, research suggests.
MedlinePlus. (2014). ‘Purpose in life’ a boon to your health.
Neighmond, P. (2014). People who feel they have a purpose in life live longer. NPR.org.
Preidt, R. (2014). A ‘purpose in life’ may extend yours. MedlinePlus.
Psychology Today. (2010). Mid-life.
Weil, A. (2014). Mid-life transition. Dr. Weil.com.
Published On: November 17, 2014