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How Purpose May Make a Difference in Your Health

By Sandy Schroeder

As 2018 gets under way, staying healthy is still a big deal. Most of us are eating healthier, walking more, and sitting less, but there may be another element to consider. Having a motivating purpose for doing what we do may help to keep us healthier.

Researchers point to the difference a purpose can make in a person’s health. They say about 25 percent of Americans feel they have a purpose and that it makes their lives meaningful. About 40 percent are neutral on the subject, or say they do not have a purpose, according to the New York Times.

Research increasingly suggests purpose is important for a meaningful life and a healthy life. Most of us would agree there is an ongoing purpose in generating income and paying the bills, but a purpose that reinforces our health may be go much deeper than that.

How Purpose Works

I have watched members of my family step up when another member needed help, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. As they became involved and helped to make a difference, they seemed healthier and happier, too.

The same thing happens when we volunteer at an animal shelter, work in the library, or assist at a senior facility. Making a difference often helps lift our mood, too.

Helping someone realize their dreams or connect with a career can be another great experience. I have friends who became college teachers after enjoying a career in corporate. Watching kids find their way and move ahead proved to be a whole lot more appealing. They left corporate and spent another 20 years helping make a difference in kids' lives.

Think about the people that you help. If all of those responsibilities were erased would you be happier? You might be freer to do whatever you wish, but researchers say you might not be more content.

When purpose affects health, researchers have shown individuals often sleep better, have fewer heart attacks and strokes, and are at a reduced risk for premature death, disability and dementia. They are also more likely to do mammograms, flu shots and colonoscopies.

When Purpose Counts

One doctor summed it up saying, “Doing good, it seems, is better than feeling good.” If you are a parent you probably know how this works. You may be delighted if your kids visit their grandparents for a week, and you are free from all of your daily parenting tasks, but when the week is up I suspect you will be more than ready to pick them up.  In spite of the ever-present chaos, and steady stream of little ups and downs, most of us need our kids just as much as they need us. That’s how purpose works. If you have it and you know it, consider yourself lucky.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Tampa, Fla.

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