Did you know that figuring out your life’s purpose has been scientifically proven to help you reduce the risk of stroke by 22% or more?
In fact, finding and living your purpose positively affects several areas of physical health, as well as improves your resilience to stress.
Purpose & Health
A study done on employees during a major company restructuring in the late 1970’s revealed that a key trait possessed by “stress hardy” individuals is “commitment,” which the researchers defined as having a purpose in life. So, science has long proven the connection between having a life purpose and dealing well with stress.
However, other relevant health studies in recent years also point to the importance of life purpose and physical well being, most notably with research in Alzheimer’s and stroke prevention.
The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in partnership with the department of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago concluded that those with a greater purpose in life “exhibited better cognition than those with less purpose in life even as plaques and tangles accumulated in their brains.”
Then there’s the power of purpose in helping to reduce the risk of strokes. Earlier this year, data was released from an ongoing study of over 6700 American adults over age 50, which indicates that a higher rating of purpose on the Ryff and Keyes’ Scales of Psychological Well-Being is associated with a reduced likelihood of stroke. The researchers found that each measured increase of purpose in life was associated with a 22% reduced risk of stroke.
Since your happiness and your health are too important to risk putting it off, let’s look at some ways to make it easier to find and live your life’s purpose.
Finding Your Life’s Purpose
If you are unsure what your purpose is, then take a look at your life. It’s filled with clues and evidence. To find your purpose, you simply need to remember your forgotten dreams and the inborn gifts you’ve taken for granted. Your purpose has been obvious all along, and you’ll see it when you notice the patterns and common threads that run throughout your experiences, accomplishments and interests.
The following list includes a sampling of the types of questions you can use to pull out the evidence. As you answer these questions, pay attention to what your responses have in common.
Answering The Call
Once you’ve come know the purpose that you’ve been called to, don’t be surprised if it suddenly seems as though something is holding you back. Most of us think that once we have it “figured out,” everything will easily fall into place. Actually, for some of us, that’s exactly what happens. On the other hand, it’s quite normal to feel like applying the brakes when your calling pulls you out of your comfort zone.
Gregg Levoy says in his book, Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life: “Unfortunately, we often simply tune out the longings we feel, rather than confront and act on them. Perhaps we do not really forget our calls but we fear what they might demand of us in pursuing them. Anticipating the conniptions of change blocks us from acknowledging that we do know, and always have known, what our calls are.”
If this is your challenge, the best way to move through it is to establish faith in yourself, which requires a simple mind shift on your part. You do this by realizing that you have carried yourself this far (which at one time was a new direction for you, by the way) and that you can carry yourself into the new direction just as capably.
Once your self-faith is refreshed, it’s wise to build in ways to stay focused on actually living your purpose. Do this whether you have any hesitations about moving forward or not because there are so many distractions and turbulences in life to pull our attention away from our intention.
Here are a few helpful ideas on how to stay focused and committed:
The fact is that you are living your purpose whether you are consciously aware of it or not. You can’t help but be unique and impact the world around you in some way with that uniqueness... even if you’ve been unaware of it and even if you have tried to squelch it.
The yearning to know your purpose is your inner spirit urging you to live consciously – to become more aware of what you’re “here to do” and maybe even ramp it up. Go ahead and acknowledge that inner voice that says you’re here at this time to do something that you have been uniquely equipped to do. It means it’s time to live your purpose on purpose.
And besides, now you have yet one more reason to go for it – scientific proof that living your purpose on purpose is not just good for your spirit, it’s good for your body and mind too.
Angela Loëb is an author, speaker and self-development consultant who loves to study, teach and write about mind mastery, spirituality and life purpose. Her new book about life purpose, The Day You Find Out Why, is being released in early 2014. More at http://about.me/angelarloeb