Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
20 Aug

Does Life Purpose Enhance Longevity?

missionTurning 60 a few weeks back was quite a trip. It’s one of those milestones that prompts reflection as well as plenty of celebration. (My wife, Carrie, is always good about getting me to do that part.) I’ve known for many years that hitting 60 wouldn’t be the bleak event our culture often makes it out to be. Personally, I don’t feel like I’m slowing down any. Nor do I have plans to. I don’t feel like life is shifting into retrospect. Doors of opportunity and innovation aren’t closing. Honestly, I find life to be more full of possibility than ever. A huge part of this, I believe, has been refining my life’s purpose. As always, I want to be a good father, husband, son, friend, etc., and I feel more deeply and confidently about these roles at this point. In terms of my vocation (because it’s much more than a job for me), I feel like I’m just getting going. I’ve been involved in health and fitness all my life, but in the last several years I’ve come closer than ever to feeling like I’m centered in the crux of that vision. I’m interested in helping people get healthy and thrive to their fullest potential. That’s exactly what I get to do each day, and it gives me satisfaction – and purpose. The whole reflection got me thinking about the physiological (and maybe even Primal) connection: does a sense of personal meaning translate into health and longevity?

The Protective Effects of Purpose

Some days we all feel like we’re going through the motions. When you take the sum total of your experience, however, what do you feel? How directed do you feel in life? How connected to a larger purpose (not necessarily metaphysical) would you say you are? Research has looked at how a sense of purpose can extend (as well as expand) our lives, and the results are impressive.

A well controlled study conducted by Rush University Medical Center experts, for example, found that over 1200 senior subjects who described themselves as having a higher sense of purpose were approximately half as likely to die during the five year study observation than those who claimed little sense of purpose. Among the statements most associated with the difference in mortality risk were three: “I sometimes feel as if I’ve done all there is to do in life;” “I used to set goals for myself, but that now seems like a waste of time;” and “My daily activities often seem trivial and unimportant to me.” Although the researchers note the importance of these questions for seniors, there’s clearly something to be gleaned here for all of us across the lifespan.

In related studies by the same Rush University team, those with a strong sense of life purpose were less likely to develop the neurological damage seen in Alzheimer’s and to actually experience Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment.

Other research, including a study of over 12,600 Hungarian citizens, also suggests the protective effects of life purpose. A greater sense of “life meaning,” the researchers found, was associated with decreased risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease and mortality. Likewise, Dan Buettner, global longevity researcher and author of The Blue Zones, has cited the sense of life purpose as one of the pivotal traits supporting longevity in the world’s longest living populations.

To explore the topic from another angle, experts have looked at the effect of retirement on mortality risk. Although the results are mixed, some studies show a significant increase in mortality in people who retire early (PDF).

The Primal Point of Meaning

Why the connection? What’s the purpose of, well, purpose? Patricia Boyle, head researcher for the Rush University Medical Center studies, suggests the sense of meaning is an element of “human flourishing” and reflective of the “tendency to derive meaning from life’s experiences” as well as meet life with “intentionality.”

It’s not a huge leap of logic to imagine how this “tendency” could’ve served our ancestors. When they were inclined to “derive meaning from life’s experiences,” they were primed to live in tune with – and productive curiosity about – their surroundings and human community. Exploration simultaneously satisfied something in them and (often, at least) spurred them toward greater opportunity and security. They were rewarded for feeling and finding purpose in their roles within the band community and in their endeavors for the sake of the group.

The same holds true for us today. We gain the same satisfaction from successfully filling the roles we value. We are gratified by contributing to the larger needs of the circles we inhabit – particularly when we can do so from a place of personal effectiveness and passion. The more we feel engaged with life, the healthier we are. Once we feel cut off from the flow and interaction of life, however, we’re more likely to wither in body and mind.

Hunting for Purpose

So, what if you don’t know your life’s purpose? What if you’re young and still exploring? What if you’re older and still exploring? What if you’re in the midst of a major life transition and questioning everything you ever thought your life was about? I don’t profess to have the answer, and I don’t think there’s one way to get there anyway. Nor do I think the answer can be forced into existence out of sheer willpower. That said, I do believe we often have more of an opinion about it than we think we do. A dose of patience in the right conditions can sometimes coax it to the surface. Here’s my take….

Sure, do the list making, the rational weighing, the free from brainstorming that experts suggest. Reflect on your passions, your priorities, your values, your talents and temperament. Consider where all of these can intersect with the needs you see in the circles or society around you. Talk to friends. Take a stab at writing a personal mission statement if you’re so inclined. Mull on the question while you’re washing dishes. Fill your head with the possibilities, the pros and drawbacks, the complexities and ambiguities. But then move out of cerebral mode entirely, get out of your own way, and hand the question over to your intuitive self.

Personally, I find there’s nothing more conducive to intuitive thinking than solo time outdoors (little surprise there, no?) – the farther away from civilization and other people the better. Don’t put the pressure on a single afternoon in the woods. Schedule a hike/climb/paddle/bike ride every weekend for, well, several weeks. As long as it takes (or as long as you just feeling like hitting the trail)… Think the question once – and only once – as you head out “into the wild” for your mini retreat. Then forget about it for the day. Just be and do and watch and smell and head home when you’re good and ready. Let the trees or mountain or river or whatever hold your place in the process like a living bookmark. Come back again the next week, and do the same thing. Keep coming.

One day you’ll leave with your answer. Maybe it will come to you like a vision as you round the corner of a trail one day. Maybe it will settle in quietly, almost imperceptibly until you finally notice it’s there with you. Either way, you’ll have let your answer come forth from hours of, call it, Primal meditation. Not a bad source to tap into when you’re seeking purpose – and time away worth the health benefits all on its own.

Thanks for reading today, everybody. Enjoy your week!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I love this, especially the part about time in nature. I just got back from a week in the mountains and come back completely revitalised and refocussed, it’s too easy to get swept up in the noise of city living and forget what’s important

    Sam wrote on August 20th, 2013
  2. I think having a mission or a sense of purpose adds another dimension to day-to-day living.

    Even adding a goal or understanding WHY I’m doing something makes everything so much more meaningful. It’s like with training ad rehabbing injuries – only until I give myself a goal and understand why I’m doing all of this work, do I actually gain progress and enjoy the fruits of my labor (which is strength, joint health etc.) A lot of happiness is derived form this, and I’d imagine being happy is good for your health.

    I think this ties in with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This seems to be the “self-actualization” part of the pyramid.

    Mark P wrote on August 20th, 2013
  3. I don’t know if I would live longer but I sure would live more enjoyably if I could find a rhyme or reason to the madness.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on August 20th, 2013
  4. Oh I wholeheartedly agree that having a purpose is the key to, well, just about everything positive in life, especially longevity. Having a purpose contributes toward your overall health, well-being, happiness, sense of gratitude, etc. and connecting with nature is a great way to find that purpose!

    Charlotte wrote on August 20th, 2013
  5. My purpose is two chicks at the same time but I don’t know how far that will take me.

    Steve62 wrote on August 20th, 2013
  6. This just makes sense. I don’t know about others, but self-reflection and sitting down to figure out my short-term and long-term goals, just making my purpose clear makes me feel so much more fulfilled and happy. Why wouldn’t it enhance longevity!?

    Brendan Coburn wrote on August 20th, 2013
  7. Viktor Frankl wrote a great book on this

    http://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/080701429X

    People that found some way to have meaning and purpose meant the difference between life and death at times.

    bjjcaveman wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • A great book which can be summed up in one sentence: “If you have a strong enough ‘Why’, you can bear almost any ‘How’”.

      Tim.

      tim wrote on August 20th, 2013
  8. I don’t know about longevity, but I know my life is just better when I have a sense of purpose.

    I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I “grew up” until I was about 44 or 45. I felt like I was running around trying to be done with things. I know now that I don’t need to rush through life trying to be done with things. I enjoy all the time I have on the planet, however long it may be :)!

    Debbie wrote on August 20th, 2013
  9. Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor wrote a great book on this titled ‘Mans Search For Meaning’

    Managing to find some meaning and purpose, despite being imprisoned, meant the difference between life and death at times.

    bjjcaveman wrote on August 20th, 2013
  10. Purpose is good, but it can be a double-edged sword. Men in particular tend to identify with their job. In other words, what they do is who they are. Then when they retire that identity is gone. Sometimes it gets replaced with something else to fill the void, but often it doesn’t. They no longer have the slightest idea who they are. They lose interest in life and poor health or early death often follows.

    I’m not just speculating here; I’ve seen this happen. IMO, a healthy sense of purpose should be diverse and branch out into many areas of interest that aren’t profession-related. This ongoing sense of purpose seems to come easier to some than to others, for whatever reason.

    Shary wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • I tend to agree with this. Having a job like Mark’s is like a combined hobby and career, which is a blessing. The people I see who live full lives are the ones who are constantly learning and exploring, who dive into their hobbies and relish their quiet time. I don’t know if any of them have a “purpose” in life, but regardless of their job, they fill their time with things that give them real joy. It seems more like a passion than a purpose.

      Deanna wrote on August 20th, 2013
      • Very true, Deanna.

        Kathy wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • One thing that’s always fascinated me is the script that plays out every time you meet a new person:

      Person A: Nice to meet you. What do you do?
      Person B: I’m an accountant (or teacher or researcher or or or)

      The question is What, and the answer is Who (or sometimes who-for, as in, “I work at Pfizer”)

      Julie wrote on August 21st, 2013
    • “A healthy sense of purpose should be diverse and branch out into many areas of interest that aren’t profession related.”

      Very good observation. I find that when my life purpose is one dimensionally focused on my career, (even if it is in service to others), my health and happiness actually suffer.

      The equation that my mind has devised doesn’t ever seem to get the results I want.

      Maybe it’s an “at all cost” mentality, but whatever the reason, I know it doesn’t make me happy even though I think it ought to.

      But when I get interested and energized by other pursuits (lately it’s been stargazing and arrowhead hunting), I feel great and actually end up producing more at my job.

      Are you familiar with Stephen Covey’s “roles and goals” model for personal time management? It’s a great way to foster awareness of our multi-dimensional nature.

      Alex wrote on August 22nd, 2013
  11. I believe those connections mentioned in the studies are more likely to be a result of a healthier lifestyle and more mental activity, as a result of having a purpose.

    LandoV wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • While it is an interesting (and likely true) observation that those with a purpose, joy, meaning, and other elements of “wishing to stay alive” would then often (or always) make different, better decisions as compared to themselves with less purpose, joy, meaning, and “wishing to stay alive”…

      The true question is then… Even if the longevity & resilience is the result of an effect of purpose, joy, meaning, and “wishing to stay alive”….

      …does that mean the purpose, joy, meaning, and “wishing to stay alive” are nonetheless required for the effects to manifest?

      AND:

      …are there other, biochemical (or otherwise) effects *not simply from a difference in the decisions made* which also affect longevity & resilience?

      Questioner wrote on September 22nd, 2013
      • **Even if the longevity & resilience is the result of effects of purpose, joy, meaning, and “wishing to stay alive”….

        Questioner wrote on September 22nd, 2013
  12. When I turned 49, I suddenly had the overwhelming feeling that I had outlived my usefulness…and of course, a mild depression followed, accompanied by lots of tears. I got past it.

    At 50, I may have outlived my usefulness, but i INVENTED a reason to keep going. As long as i still have brain cells left, I can keep on inventing reasons.

    Wenchypoo wrote on August 20th, 2013
  13. Longevity? Not worried about that. I’m 70. My mother and all four grandparents lived to their mid 80s and died of things that could be cured now. (My mother was overweight, smoked for many years, and ate lots of junk food.) So for me it is about quality of life. Why live at all if you don’t have a purpose? Which I do.

    Harry Mossman wrote on August 20th, 2013
  14. This just makes good sense for me.

    I’m 57 and although I have a great career, I used to feel I was “only getting older” and that things were all downhill from here..

    Now that I’m feeling/looking better, with more energy, enthusiasm and confidence (since reading Mark’s PB book and following the basics for a couple of months) I will want something to direct this newfound energy.

    Having something like this to look forward to doing is a good next step for me. After developing a mission statement, following my own “lead” will be my next challenge.

    Scottm wrote on August 20th, 2013
  15. A purpose? We’re born into this world and exit this world without much say in the matter. Our purpose is to reproduce. Everything else is ego.

    Basil Cronus wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • I agree. Survive first, and reproduce second. Do animals need a “purpose”? I think birds fly out of necessity, out of following some inner compass, and maybe once in a while for the sheer thrill of flying. They never sit around worrying or looking for ways to better themselves. I think of those birds when I feel lost. They remind me that maybe I should just let go and let the wind carry me.

      raz wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • Wow. That is about the most depressing thing I have ever heard. If you really have that attitude, how can you have any joy at all?

      Mark wrote on August 20th, 2013
      • Actually, it’s quite liberating. Facing life for what it is, accepting the nature of things, brings a tremendous amount of inner joy. Setting up life purposes, I find, brings quite a bit of stress with it. At the end of the day the same finish line is waiting for us regardless of our lives.

        basil cronus wrote on August 20th, 2013
      • Actually, that is the secret to joy.

        If one finds that depressing, then perhaps one may want to take a break and reflect a bit about life! And perhaps read a little Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

        BT wrote on August 20th, 2013
        • Unfortunately, my Mother is all about “What’s the use? We’re just going to die anyway.” I can say from direct observation that assuming that once we’ve reproduced our lives are pointless is the way to complete and utter life long depression.

          Heck, I’ll give you the philosophy may be true. It is certainly very liberating (trust me, my Mom has never felt that obligations that bound other people have bound her), but it is not a recipe for long term joy.

          The only key is accept that our actions might not turn out immediately the way we would like. Benevolent acts don’t usually put money in the bank or cover you with awards. (Or sometimes even thanks.) Work in some obscure area may not have any impact in your lifetime.

          Letting go of the results does not mean letting go of purpose.

          Amy wrote on August 22nd, 2013
  16. This reminds me of the great quote:

    The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

    Sounds easy…but I struggle with it!

    Jess wrote on August 20th, 2013
  17. I enjoyed this article very much. I am reading a book called “Quiet” that explores the positive and negative sides of either being and extrovert or an introvert. The author is an introvert, as I am. Introverts tend toward introspection which is what you are suggesting here to discover one’s mission. I appreciate this kind of approach rather than the “groupthink” philosophy that has evolved out the focus on team building that evolved via the business world and implanted firmly in the American psyche by the Harvard Business School.

    But I realize there are both positive and negative aspects to evolving as an individual as well as part of something larger than oneself. : )

    Dava Castillo wrote on August 20th, 2013
  18. Love the bit about getting out in nature, and on many occasions this strategy has given solid results. My first experience (that I really recall) was my senior year of high school. I really wanted to give a speech at high school graduation (we had try outs instead of the typical valedictorian selection), but I couldn’t decide what to write about. I went out to one of my favorite places, in the hills, and just hiked around for a bit, thinking on it. And then an idea just kind of came to me, and I really liked it and developed it into a pretty decent graduation speech (IMHO). I’ve never really thought about that moment in light of all my PB knowledge, but now that I have it really makes sense. I’m with you Mark, I really love nature!

    Stacie wrote on August 20th, 2013
  19. I disagree about a sense of purpose being key to longevity or happiness. Rather, I think it is a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction that is important. The difference in terminology or concept is real. Having a sense of purpose implies an existence that is goal-oriented, or predestined, or cosmically connected, or assigned (either internally or externally). I don’t think that kind of sense of purpose is at all necessary for people to lead long happy lives. I do think that a feeling of gratification from being connected to others or from doing good work for oneself or others is key, but this can arise from merely knowing one’s place in one’s social circle and that you have done something useful there. In H-G groups this comes from being part of a close knit group, having a useful kinship role, and going with the flow of existence and doing your part. I doubt very much that people in these situations thought of overarching ‘purposes’ to keep themselves going; they just lived their lives. Conversely, not ‘having a purpose’ sounds much like not ‘having a goal’, very Protestant work-ethic-y, something you might hear from a parent that wants the child to move out, or something from a pop psychologist describing a depressed person. There is nothing wrong with not feeling that you need to dedicate your life to some overarching goal; what’s important is that whatever you do, makes you and your circle happy.

    BillP wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • I think this is just a matter of semantics. Purpose may be a goal or just loving your daily activities. Years ago I met a friend’s 94 yo grandmother who lived in a remote village in Greece. Everyday she got up to feed and take care of the chickens until one day one of her children took them away. I don’t know what happened to her, but when they took her chickens away, they took away her purpose . . . This great lady also told me to go have children, it would be the greatest thing in life, I didn’t understand and waited nearly 20 years . . . but she was right.

      Colleen wrote on August 20th, 2013
      • Her children took away her chickens!? Oowh, that is so sad! I have chickens and I love taking care of them, my kids better never take them away!
        As for our sense of purpose, our outer purpose changes throughout life (and it’s not always our “job”). And HOW we do something is more important than the WHAT we are doing. Eckhart Tolle says it best for me: ” Ask youself- Is there joy, ease, and lightness in what I am doing? …See if you can give much more attention to the doing than to the result you want to achieve through it. Give your fullest attention to whatever the moment presents. As soon as you honor the present moment, unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out of present moment awareness whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love- even the most simple action.”

        Mary wrote on August 21st, 2013
  20. Not sure if you would call this a purpose, more of an ongoing inquiry. I’ve made my living as a science journalist for most of my life, and find at age 58 the most compelling, engaging revelation is that consciousness and the physical universe are fundamentally linked. In a very real way, the universe is not “out there,” and consciousness plays a central role in its creation and continued existence. This is not speculation, it’s raw fact, and I find it infinitely compelling and the genesis of lots of interesting experimentation that I am sure will fascinate me for the rest of my life.

    perelmanfan wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • Quantum Mechanics? My idea of an ongoing inquiry that I, too, find infinitely compelling! :)

      Brittany wrote on August 20th, 2013
      • Quantum Mechanics is an advanced physicists way of weaseling out of saying “Heck if I know.”. The physical phenomenon behind quantum mechanics is real. The explanation is basically “it’s magic”. Tain’t science in my book. ;)

        Amy wrote on August 22nd, 2013
    • Love this. Have gotten to the same place through spiritual inquiry. Would say that my purpose is to keep following the questions that ensue.

      Holly wrote on August 20th, 2013
  21. Happy belated Birthday Mark! Life is such a gift, especially when you can live your passion.

    Purpose affects longevity – ABSOLUTELY!!! On my mother’s side, of my gene pool, they easily live beyond the 90;s; unless, they decide to go. Usually, it is out of boredom, lack of purpose. One morning, they wake up and they know that their life purpose is to die. Give them 90 days and they achieve their goal.

    For those of us, who live beyond these transitions, we have grown to accept and rejoice in the knowing that our beloved ones lived a life of purpose till the end.
    Oh! For most of us, it is like hitting the reset button.

    Meanwhile, on my Father’s side. Workaholics 24/7, they usually burnout. No one retires, except me. I am blessed with 3 grandsons, who teach me about ‘the living’ whenever I spend time with them (each week).

    Robert wrote on August 20th, 2013
  22. I think lack of mission and purpose is why so many people over 40 get really miserable and depressed. There’s so much life ahead and career years left to live, yet they give up trying, stop reaching for the next brass ring, and it eats away at their soul.

    Paula wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • I agree. At age 48 I’ve decided to go to grad school. It is something that I should have done many years ago and have regretted ever since.

      Jon wrote on August 20th, 2013
      • Jon – I hate to say this, but I will. My Mother went back to grad school at about 52 or so and received about $32K worth of student loans. They have literally haunted her ever since (she’s 72 now). We (her daughters) are now applying to get them discharged.

        If you can afford it outright, excellent. If you have to take out student loans mid-life, please think heavily on what 10 years from now looks like with those. If what you want is simply the education, in the age of Google, Ted talks, and LinkedIn you’ll better a better education for practically nothing.

        Amy wrote on August 22nd, 2013
  23. Wow Mark,your post,it’s awesome!That’s the way I love them.Happy belated birthday by the way!Keep going,nobody said we had to stop when we hit the 60′s.You seem to be taking it in your stride.Enjoy!

    Jonas Larsson wrote on August 20th, 2013
  24. I’m not sure whether it’s fair to describe my work (art) as purpose-driven… it’s more of an obsession perhaps. I take it very seriously, but sometimes it seems quite frivolous & I’m almost embarrassed to claim it as *having* any purpose. Yet it is the one thing I’ve wanted to do with my life, nonstop since the age of nine, so it is as close to a calling as I’ve got, & I can’t imagine life without it. Does that count? The saying goes, ars longa, vita brevis… implying there is never any moment when you don’t have a challenge ahead, & I guess that’s part of the allure.

    The other thing that always propels me forward is curiosity. But again, that sometimes feels more self-indulgent than purposeful… learning is pleasure, most of the time.

    The one time in my life when I felt *clearly* purpose-driven was when my children were young. Parenting is undeniably a very powerful purpose!

    Paleo-curious wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • p.s. Happy birthday, Mark, & thank you for both piquing AND satisfying my curiosity in so many ways! ( Not to mention helping me get healthy!)

      Paleo-curious wrote on August 20th, 2013
  25. Thanks Mark and Happy Birthday. I’m turning 52 in two days and I already feel the waves of anxiety approaching. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    Judy G wrote on August 20th, 2013
  26. Where’s the “Like” button? I

    Joe wrote on August 20th, 2013
  27. If I may, I would like to direct everyone to the most awesome Ted Talk I have seen in a while (and have watched several times since). Very relevant to Mark’s post.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life.html

    Bev wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • Wow Bev thanks for posting this!!! incredible, uplifting, thanks again!!!

      wildgrok wrote on August 20th, 2013
  28. Dear Mark,

    Many happy returns on turning 60. You are one of the most influential people in my life, this website has done more for me in the last few years than anything else. I have turned a corner in my life in terms of health and happiness, and you deserve all the credit and plaudits I can offer. Please continue to do what you do for many years to come.

    Owen wrote on August 20th, 2013
  29. Great article. I’m really loving your posts. Happy Birthday, Mark.
    I’ve gone through a strange transition in my life – transition of purpose. I’ve always been a very religious, church-going person but have begun to question everything I have believed. I still have purpose but it’s shifting. I still believe but in different ways. I’m encouraged to not lose my sense of purpose for this world. I believe God designed us all for a purpose. In the busyness of life, it’s so easy to forget. I really do think I need time alone in nature. Just wish it was possible.

    Kathy wrote on August 20th, 2013
    • Hi Kathy,
      A little bit of blatant self-promotion here, but (author to author) I think my little book may be of help to you.
      Whatever, have a “look inside” and see it it’s for you or not:
      http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E88534I
      Peace,
      Cal :)

      Cal wrote on August 20th, 2013
  30. Thank you for yet another great post Mark.

    Talking about “purpose,” I turned (a mere) 67 today. I spent two hours this morning having coffee with a friend (my “sounding board”) discussing my latest “project.” Boy, have I got a lot to do? (And if I’m careful it might even keep me out of trouble [but I doubt it ;) ].)

    Cal wrote on August 20th, 2013
  31. Congrats on turning sixty. I’m hoping I’m full of as much spunk as you are when I hit that day.

    Matt wrote on August 20th, 2013
  32. Great minds think alike, Mark! I’m writing a blog post on this exact subject for my healthy brain blog using the Rush data!
    I’m not so skilled at the suggestions on ‘how to find your purpose’ – I found my own … writing about neuroscience, so I’m going to quote a paragraph from this post, if ok?

    Cheers (and thanks for trumping my idea of the week!!!!).

    Sarah

    Sarah McKay wrote on August 20th, 2013
  33. Mark, I have found your daily apple, with its mix of news, advice and opinion a constant inspiration and support. My career came abruptly to an close when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1998. Since then, I have moved out of the city, grow organic, live well, cycle, swim and run as well as keeping my piano playing on a regular basis. At 56 I m in the best shape I have ever been. Your blog gives me a challenge to face life positively and with enthusiasm. Thanks.

    Norfolk Andy wrote on August 21st, 2013
    • 55 – actually! My partner is 56.

      Norfolk Andy wrote on August 21st, 2013
    • Thanks for the kind words, Andy. Grok on!

      Mark Sisson wrote on August 21st, 2013
  34. Awesome. I truly believe that a lack of purpose will shorten your life. In my opinion the reason why people who retire die shortly thereafter is because they have nothing to live for. The opposite is true when an ill person has something to live for and can last long after the doctors prediction.

    All in all, goals and purpose will help you in your life :)

    Carol wrote on August 21st, 2013
  35. LOVE this as I have myriad mission statements.
    FAMILY, SPIRITUAL, PERSONAL, FITNESS….and they all, I hope, conspire to help me live longer…

    MizFit wrote on August 21st, 2013
  36. I believe our PURPOSE here as human beings is to learn, grow in our humanity, love each other, be good to each other, and learn to accept we are valuable and should be valued because we ARE. I AM. I also believe that life without PASSION can lead to boredom, depression, and early death. Purpose and passion are definitely different. I believe all of us have the same purpose whether we know it or not (but it’s definitely not to reproduce-at age 45 and married 25 yrs, I’m childless by choice and by that definition I’m pretty useless). But our passions are what make us all unique, and keep us alive and going. The truly blessed person is the one who’s passion and vocation coincide. Thanks again Mark and happy birthday!

    Ara wrote on August 21st, 2013
  37. Great read! As someone in the midst of quite a life change, the question of purpose is something I have been pondering a lot lately. There is both apprehension on the next career move and excitement at the possibilities. Regardless, there is always the same priority at the heart of living, and that is the love and support of those we hold dearest. So for now, while I traverse the expanse of unemployment (which will be only temporary I am sure), I can hold to the notion that to be a good husband, son, brother, or friend is the ultimate purpose in life.

    Cory wrote on August 21st, 2013
  38. Absolutely! I’m 70, closing in on 71, and feel more inspired by life and learning and possibilities than ever! Always, always more to learn, more to delight in, more to share.

    Thank you, Mark, the Primal Blueprint is one of the things I find myself sharing again and again, it’s made a big difference in my life.

    Cathy (Kate) Johnson wrote on August 21st, 2013
  39. I agree with the whole attitude towards your life affecting your ageing. My dad made a conscious decision to never retire after seeing too many people loose their mana and purpose after retirement. I know seeing him out still running a 500 acre farm singlehandedly inspires me to do new scary stuff evey year. Today he will be up on top of the haybarn fixing new iron on the roof probably. … hes 91 by the way…

    sarah wrote on August 21st, 2013
    • Retirement is overrated, I think. Leisure time at any age rocks!

      Amy wrote on August 22nd, 2013
  40. A belated Happy Birthday, Mark! Great read, as always. Even though I don’t always follow the primal lifestyle, I really admire your positive attitude and intelligent approach to things. You’re a real inspiration and I hope to have even half as much health and vitality when I’m your age.

    Terry wrote on August 21st, 2013

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