The purpose-driven life is arguably the most fulfilling life, but new research suggests it may also be a longer one.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 7,000 people, all age 50 and older, who were part of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a national observational study that included a “life-purpose” questionnaire.
Questions ranked how strongly the participants felt about the purposefulness of their lives, asking them to respond to statements like, “I enjoy making plans for the future and working to make them a reality” with a score between 1 and 6. Other statements such as “My daily activities seem unimportant to me” tested the opposite end of the purpose spectrum. By averaging the ranked responses across all of the questions, researchers assigned each person a “life-purpose score.”
Participants answered those questions in 2006. Five years later, 776 of them had died. When researchers compared the mortality rates with the life-purpose scores, they found that people with the lowest scores were twice as likely to have died than those with the highest scores.