Ready for a second act? Having a strong purpose in life makes you happier and healthier. Here are 45 ways to get started.
Having a purpose in life may be protective against stroke. At Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, brain autopsies showed that older people were much less likely to have evidence of strokes in their brains if they'd felt a strong purpose in life. Other studies show that a life purpose is linked with living longer, slowing Alzheimer's disease, lower risks of depression and heart attack – and even a better sex life!
But what defines a life purpose? Researchers say that's up to you. It might mean constantly learning and bettering yourself or contributing to your community. Inspired to find yours? Here are 45 ways to get you started.
Put pen to paper
The process of writing down what you find meaningful will set you on the right track. Try making these lists.
1 List your core values. What do you believe in? What is most important to you?
2 List things that fascinate you. What captures your interest? What would you like to know more about?
3 List your skills. What are your special talents? What do you enjoy doing?
4 List all the reasons why you got up this morning!
5 Seek therapy. Feeling daunted by the task of finding your life's meaning on your own? Trained therapists can actually guide you through the process. Yes, life-purpose counselling is a thing!
6 Set goals
Purpose can be defined as having specific goals to work toward. Do you want to learn a language, master the violin, build a schoolhouse, write that epic screenplay? "Purpose is about having a vision in life," writes Duke University professor Harold Koenig in his book Purpose and Power In Retirement: New Opportunities for Meaning and Significance. "This vision is a picture of something important and significant that we see in our mind's eye, a picture of something we have not yet achieved but have decided is worth the effort to obtain."
7 Invent something
Older inventors are often successful because they have more life experience, which can enhance their insight and problem-solving skills.
8 Teach something
Share your expertise! Teaching degrees aren't necessarily required for instructors of continuing education courses.
9 Write something
Your memoirs might inspire the next generation.
Have you ever been so thoroughly absorbed in what you were doing that you completely lost track of time? That's a clue to what your life's purpose might be.
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