According to the Washington Post’s Wonkblog age calculator, as of today I have lived 53 percent of my life. Statistically speaking, I’ll live to be about 83 years old and will probably die in the year 2054. That is if I survive this year, when I have a 0.2 percent chance of dying. Statistically speaking.
The Wonkblog calculator is fun, but not a guarantee. No one can tell you how long you will live, but scientists have proven that living those years with purpose has many benefits …and may even add a few years to the calculation. Here at Storyforge, we’ve studied the positive impact purpose can have on business, so we were intrigued to learn more about what effect purpose can have on a more molecular level.
Live with purpose and scientists say:
You’ll live longer.
According to Patrick L. Hill, psychology professor at Carleton University and co-author of a 2014 study that examined the connection between purpose and longevity, having a purpose in life appears to decrease mortality risks in our adult years. “Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve, can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” says Hill. “So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”
You’ll be healthier.
Researchers found that people who scored higher on the purpose scale were significantly less likely to develop dementia, mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s Disease and less likely to have a stroke or microscopic blood vessel infarcts that damage brain tissue. “Purpose somehow gives your brain resilience,” says Patricia A. Boyle, PhD, a neuropsychologist with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
You’ll be more open.
Three different studies concluded that having a purpose increases comfort with ethnic diversity and openness to living in ethnically diverse cities (as opposed to ethnically homogeneous ones).
You’ll be happier.
In addition to medically measurable positive benefits, like lower levels of stress and stronger immune systems, living with meaning also creates lasting happiness. Not the fleeting hedonic kind (increase pleasure, decrease pain), but more sustainable eudaimonic well-being where happiness comes from finding meaning, meeting challenges and experiencing growth.
Longevity, health, openness/curiosity and happiness. Qualities of an individual purpose-driven life that mirror the positive impacts we observe and measure in purpose-driven companies.
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Haley Boehning is a principle at Storyforge. Building on 20+ years driving change for Fortune 500 clients, non-profits and start-ups, Haley has developed a pragmatic approach to change through storytelling, developing relevant, consistent and emotionally compelling messages and targeted communications strategies that help brand and culture triumph in times of great change.