So, what exactly is life purpose? Life purpose is defined differently by different people. But in general it indicates that you have an aim in life and goals. This purpose, the study authors said, helps make it more likely that you will engage in behaviors that are good for your health. Some studies have simply asked people what gives them a sense of purpose in life, says Kim.
“I define it as the extent to which people experience their lives as being directed and motivated by valued life goals,” says Kim.
How Does Life Purpose Keep You Healthy?
There are a few theoretical reasons why having a life purpose might help improve your health. These include the following:
It makes you more likely to protect your health. For example, you might eat healthier, sleep better, exercise more, or increase your use of preventive health services.
It could reduce stress. “There’s some evidence from lab studies and studies that track people over time that suggests that people with a higher sense of purpose in life are less perturbed by various stressors, and also recover more quickly when they are more stressed out,” says Kim.
Ultimately, activities that provide life purpose may be prompted by an overarching outlook in which life itself is greatly valued, says Kim.
Lacking Purpose? Strategies To Help
If you feel like you are lacking purpose, seeking out new opportunities may help. Look for activities and roles that will provide a compelling reason to get up every morning. Some research has found that volunteering is a valuable option for many people.
But if you’re feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
“There’s some evidence to suggest that specialized cognitive behavioral therapy can improve a sense of purpose in life, as well as meaning in life, which is a conceptually close cousin,” says Kim.