Does Having a Purpose in Life Make You Happier?

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Do you think having a purpose in your daily life makes you happier?  I found an article recently that suggests that not only does having a purpose or direction make you happier, but it contributes to your overall lifespan.

The article covered a study that asked people a series of questions that indicated whether or not they felt they had direction and purpose in life.  Years later, those who had rated themselves as having direction and purpose, had “15 percent lower risk of death, compared with those who said they were more or less aimless.”

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No matter what people’s individual purpose was {i.e. massive social contributions or doing well at their job}, just having one seemed to insulate them, a little more at least, from the daily effects of stress.  Researchers did another experiment where they placed students on a bus and measured their stress as people from different ethnic backgrounds came aboard {apparently, people were more comfortable when their own ethnicity climbed onto the bus, versus different ones}.

Then, they split the group into two parts.  The first group was told to write about their life’s purpose as they rode the bus, and then to stop at each bus stop and rate how they felt.  The second was to do the same, only they were to write about the last movie they saw.  The experiment resulted in the group that wrote about their purpose having lowered stress responses than the other group.  Maybe they had focus on something, rather than external stressors?

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I totally agree with the idea of the article.  I feel my best when I am busy–I have goals and direction when I’m busy.  When I am idle, I swear, somehow there is more time to dwell on life’s daily stressors.

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What do you think?  Does having a purpose or direction make YOU happier/healthier?  Do you feel more stress when you are stuck in an aimless rut?


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  1. CH says

    The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose – not sure who said that but I am a firm believer that man/woman is not meant to sit at home with nothing to do!

    • Stacey says

      I agree, CH, people are meant to be productive. That may be in the form of doing something, or it could be as a supporter for someone else.

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