A Sense of Purpose – the elixir of health and longevity?

Woman-arms-outToday, as I type, my dear friend, Mary,  is going through cancer surgery. She is a two time survivor already, and this has been lightening striking a third  time.  Throughout her weeks and weeks of chemo, she has shown such amazing courage and focus, as are hallmarks of her naturally strong personality. She has been staying active all throughout, working, biking and running, and completing a heavy workload for her Masters in Theology.

I was poking around today to explore this concept of health and purpose, and what people are saying about the connection. I know anecdotally we hear that people with purpose might get through trials or health issues better, as do people with religious or other communities. But what do we really know about this?

With a voracious interest in neuroscience, I do know that the brain changes when we are engaged in or focused on things that bring us purpose or happiness. There is science behind it. That we produce chemicals that protect against stress and mitigate reactions from the hormones that wreak havoc on our immune systems, compromising our ability to protect our health. Amid various studies, here is a brief snippet of research that’s in this camp and explores the question:

What do people consider “purpose,” and how might this affect our health?

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/07/28/334447274/people-who-feel-they-have-a-purpose-in-life-live-longer

Today, as I hold my friend close in my thoughts, I am holding faith that this sort of thing is really is true.

What do you think, do you have stories that reflect a sense of purpose affecting someone’s health?