How can we expect to grow older by staying stagnant? We can’t expect to have gusto as we move ahead if we don’t examine what our purpose is in life at this stage. The link between having a strong purpose in life and aging with good health is explored in a new book by Victor Strecher, aged 58.
Strecher started researching the connection between having a purposeful life and ones health after losing his daughter at age 19 to heart disease. He is a professor and director for innovation and social entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. He wrote a book, “On Purpose” to show the science behind having a purposeful life and how it enriches an older persons well being.
An interview with Strecher emphasized the importance of having a direction in life that goes much deeper than oneself. You may be wondering how does science play into this theory? Well, he claims that there is strong science that supports the fact that people with a weaker purpose in life were 2.4 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Also, people with a stronger sense of their role in life tend to live longer, and fewer heart attacks and strokes. The idea behind having strong reasons for being alive have been shown to reduce ones tendency to shy away from change. It enables a person to see how their behaviors have affect and changes are made more easily. He gives an example of a recently retired woman who is helping her daughter and granddaughter. Her knowledge of her importance in their lives is a big encouragement to stay healthy.
His book is full of graphics and exercises. One exercise has the reader asking themselves questions like, “What do you hope people will say at your memorial service about you?” He believes it helps people to realize life has an ending and we need to stop fearing death.
The author, himself feels he has been helped by his own research. By helping others find a purpose he has become a less selfish person.