Unlocking Purpose for a Healthy Life

Research increasingly suggests purpose in life is one of the core components of well-being.

Unlocking and pursuing a sense of purpose in life can have powerful beneficial effects on both our brain and our body.

Purpose is defined as “having a clear reason to get up in the morning” and deriving meaning from daily experiences.

Having purpose is linked to a number of positive health outcomes, including better sleep, fewer strokes and heart attacks, lower risk of dementia, and premature death. Those with a strong sense of purpose are more likely to embrace preventative health services.

I listen for a living. And, one of the people I listen very closely to is Dr. Eric Kim, Research Associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who researches purpose and health.

In the U.S., the number of people aged 65+ is projected to increase by nearly 50% in the next 15 years. Dr. Kim’s goal is to be part of a team that helps substantially improve the well-being of this rapidly growing population. He serves as a subject matter specialist for AARP/Age UK’s Global Council on Brain Health.

According to Dr. Kim’s research, when comparing those with the highest purpose in life to those with the lowest purpose in life, people with the highest purpose…

  1. Health outcomes (over a 4-year follow-up period)
    • Have 79% reduced risk of stroke
  2. Health care use (over a 6-year follow-up period)
    • 32% fewer doctor visits
    • 61% fewer overnight hospitalizations
  3. Preventive health care use (over a 6-year follow-up period)
    • Men and women
      • 21% more likely to obtain flu shots
      • 33% more likely to obtain colonoscopy
      • 2x more likely to obtain cholesterol
    • Women
      • 3x more likely to obtain mammogram
      • 2x more likely to obtain pap smear
    • Men
      • 4x more likely to obtain prostate exam
  4. Behavioral (over a 4-year follow-up period)
    • 58% less likely to develop sleep disturbances
  5. Mortality (research in progress…)
    • The association between purpose in life and mortality persists across different levels of socioeconomic statues (e.g. Total wealth and educational attainment)
    • Purpose in life is linked with several biological markers that indicate better health. For example, it is linked with lower levels of inflammatory markers (c-reactive protein) and better kidney function (cystatin).

Clearly having a purpose in life is a powerful force that can improve our overall health and quality of life. But, unlocking purpose is rarely a revelation, nor is it something you pick up with age. It is a practice that requires both introspection and a commitment to act.

Go to and click on RESOURCES, then click on The Power of Purpose to download a free copy of A GUIDE TO UNLOCKING YOUR PURPOSE.

The key to a deeper, healthier life isn’t just knowing your purpose in life – it’s building purpose into your life.

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Richard Leider, founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, is one of America’s preeminent executive-life coaches. He is ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top 5” most respected executive coaches, and by the Conference Board as a “legend in coaching.” Richard has written ten books, including three best sellers, which have sold over one million copies and have been translated into 20 languages. Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal development field. Richard’s PBS Special – The Power of Purpose – was viewed by millions of people across the U.S.

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