Want to be healthier in 2018? Research out of St. Louis says ‘find your purpose’

By January 9, 2018

If you plan to start the new year with a healthy attitude, you are not alone. In fact, to eat better (37 percent) and exercise more (37 percent) are two of the highest priorities on the list of new year’s resolution in 2018.

Living a healthier lifestyle is unquestionably a great ambition, with many benefits, but for many Americans, it’s easier said than done, impacted by a prodigious list of factors.

However, new research out of Washington University in St. Louis has found one unique trait which can encourage you to make healthier lifestyle choices. According to the research, participants with a higher sense of purpose make healthier lifestyle choices and felt better about their own health status.

“Our analysis found that participants’ sense of purpose was positively associated with their reports of both vigorous and moderate activity, vegetable intake, flossing, and sleep quality,” said the study’s lead author Patrick Hill, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences, reports the Washington University’s theSOURCE.

The study analyzed 749 people, with an average age of 60, using surveys in a longitudinal study of personality and health, conducted in Hawaii. These participants were first surveyed as elementary school students on the islands of Oahu and Kauai. Following the first survey, each participant was then contacted every two years as adults to continue filling out these recurring surveys.

“Participants reporting a higher sense of purpose also reported a greater likelihood to enact all health behaviors of interest and higher self-rated health,” Hill said. “Overall, these findings point to the importance of considering healthy lifestyle habits as a prominent explanation for why purposeful individuals experience better health outcomes.”

This new discovery follows a large body of research which suggest having a sense of purpose comes with many benefits. For example, a 2014 study, also conducted by Patrick Hill, found that people who feel they have a purpose in life live longer.

For those who have a deeply entrenched sense of purpose, this is undeniably fantastic news. Although for anyone struggling to find their path in life, this might sound slightly disheartening.

Suzan Garner

Suzan Garner

According to Suzan Garner, a veteran entrepreneur and co-founder of Mindworks, a nonprofit organization on a mission to foster greater happiness and well-being by making meditation more accessible and relevant for today’s challenges, believes that meditation can do a world of good when searching for your purpose.

“Meditation helps calm the countless thoughts and emotions that flood through our minds all day long. It brings a spaciousness and clarity that discriminates between what’s beneficial in our lives and what is not,” say Garner.

“We are then able to look for what enhances our well-being and pursue a true sense of purpose that makes us stable and strong, independent and healthy,” she adds.

Additionally, the internet is filled with advice and help, with many leading websites such as Psychology Today and TED offering a large amount of info, providing ideas on how to find your calling.