Having Purpose and Meaning in Life Supports Healthy Cognitive Function
Discover how having a sense of purpose and meaning in life can positively impact cognitive function and your overall well-being.
What you consider your purpose in life is unique to you. Nobody else feels the same way that you do about the purpose of your life, whether that purpose involves your family, your community, your spirituality, learning new skills, or helping others less fortunate than you.
What Does Purpose in Life Mean to You?
Achieving and maintaining specific goals in life mirrors a general definition of purpose. Some people volunteer to work for charitable organizations, some take care of grandchildren during the day while parents work, others engage in creative or educational pursuits. Regardless of what you feel is your purpose in life, that purpose should give you a deep sense of satisfaction, contentment, and worthwhile happiness.
Why is Having Purpose in Life Good for the Brain?
Psychologists refer to pursuits that promote a profound awareness of purpose and meaning as eudemonic pursuits. Alternately, hedonic pursuits provide only sensory enjoyment that momentarily fills a need associated with taste, touch, hearing, smell, and sight. In most cases, hedonic activities involve risky, unhealthy, or even addictive behaviors that do not really give your life purpose or meaning.
Research indicates that having a eudemonic purpose in life encourages people to choose healthier lifestyle choices, and recover from stressful situations with a more optimistic and resilient attitude toward life. Having a "happy" brain has also been shown to support mood and cognitive function in older adults.
Tips for Finding Your Purpose in Life
Find an activity that makes you look forward to getting out of bed every morning. It doesn't have to be something that requires you to drive or leave your home. You could start your search by trying something you have never tried before, such as growing a small vegetable garden for the purpose of feeding birds and other wild creatures during winter. Did you know how easy it is to sell arts and crafts online? Why not indulge your creative urges by setting up an online account and selling your projects for extra cash? If you don't need the extra cash, why not donate your proceeds to your local favorite charity?
Donate your time and talents to nursing homes, animal shelters, and food banks. These places are always in need of volunteers to help them take care of seniors, unwanted dogs and cats, and people in need of food. Don't be shy about calling and asking if you could help in any way! People who work for these types of organizations understand a person's desire to find their purpose in life. That's probably why they are working there in the first place--they have found their purpose.