People have always searched for the secret to longevity. In the middle ages, many alchemists would concoct batches of potions in an attempt to find the elixir of life. More recently, studies on genes indicate that some populations may be prone to living longer. Other studies have considered environmental factors and modern medicine. However, the answer to a longer lifespan may be much simpler than most people want to believe.
According to research, the secret to longevity may be linked to having a sense of purpose in life. One study followed the lives of more than 6,000 people aged fifty and over for more than a decade. It showed that those who felt their lives were without purpose died at a younger age than their counterparts who felt they led purpose-filled lives.
Before considering the role of purpose as a part of the secret to longevity, you first need to understand the meaning of purpose. More accurately, you need to understand what is meant by the term ‘life purpose’. These terms refer to the things in life that are the most important to you. For a businessman, it may be his reputation. For someone else, it may be their spiritual life. For another, their contribution to society may be considered most valuable.
When you’re young and active, you may not think about your life’s purpose. This is because you would most probably be living it. Your purpose may be getting ahead in your career, creating a home, or even raising your children. But what happens once retirement sets in?
Many of us live our lives looking forward to retirement. Yet very few of us think about what we are going to do once this milestone occurs. We have raised our families, we have achieved what we wanted in our careers, and we have our homes. Now what? What is left for us to do?
The first step to finding purpose (or the secret to longevity), requires doing some homework. You should ask yourself what you like to do. Discover your passions and skills. After some brainstorming, you should be able to find that special thing and act on it.
If you draw a blank and come up with nothing, then you can consider your social media interests for input. What topics do you follow and/or comment on? That could be an indication. You should also listen to feedback from your relatives and friends. Do they compliment your cooking? Do they tell you that you have a generous heart because you are always helping someone in need? These are additional indicators that you should consider when searching for your purpose in retirement.
While the search for the secret to longevity is fairly recent, some regions are known for their longevity. Researchers found pockets of people in certain areas of the globe living far longer than those in other first world countries. These areas were dubbed Blue Zones by the scientific community.
These people were from diverse cultures and lived in different environments and climates. They all seemed to have nine things in common:
With regards to purpose and the secret to longevity, research has much to offer. Longevity has been correlated with:
There are also different health conditions, such as adrenal fatigue, that adversely affect longevity. These are also related to stress and its resulting symptoms.
Your body has its internal stress management system: the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. The Neuroaffect Circuit is one of six biological circuits within the NEM that work at managing stress. The Neuroaffect Circuit consists of the brain, autonomic nervous system, and microbiome, and plays a role with regards to mental health issues. This triad, i.e. brain, gut, and the autonomic nervous system communicates using neurotransmitters.
Stress harms brain health. Higher than normal stress levels also mean higher levels of stress hormones that could affect your brain centers that regulate your emotional response and cognitive abilities. Learning difficulties and other psychological issues may arise, as well as certain physiological issues such as an increased risk of stroke. The inflammation resulting from chronic stress may also lead to depression.
Having a purpose is a part of the secret to longevity because it gives you the motivation to deal with stressful situations more productively. This ability to recover more easily may leave you feeling more positive about your purpose in life.
The secret to longevity might have many factors that work together to result in a long, productive life. However, the purpose seems to play a major role in longevity. The key is to identify those factors that are right for you and then implement them. Doing something meaningful for yourself and others is a part of the secret to longevity that each of us can easily attain.
© Copyright 2020 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Research has found many health and lifestyle aspects that could lead to a longer life. Yet the secret to longevity may lie in finding your purpose in life, or something to wake up for each morning. Having a purpose may result in both mental and physical wellbeing.