Studies show that having a life purpose is the single greatest indicator of positive well-being. In our younger years, having a life purpose can seem to come more easily with decisions like choosing a career and getting married. But did you know that having a life purpose in retirement can be more than a life enhancer, it can be a life saver?
Prior to joining Senior Care Authority I was the executive director of the Leader Center for Active Life (LCAL), a non-profit helping senior citizens lead an active life. I met many seniors who had lost their life purpose but were working hard to find it. This is where Iris’s story begins.
Iris wandered into LCAL looking depressed and unkempt. Her 45-year career as a middle school teacher ended. As a self-proclaimed “dinosaur,” she did not know how to keep up with the technology in today’s classrooms. One day she was investing in her students and fellow teachers, and the next day her life as she knew it was over.
Iris fell into the common retirement routine - sleeping in with no schedule, watching too much TV, and going out for fast food. Iris’s physician knew that these habits were affecting her health and charged her to find a new purpose. Thankfully, Iris stumbled upon our senior center where she could donate her time, energy, and experience to rebuild her life.
Sensing purpose once again, Iris put her leadership and organizational skills to work as the party organizer. She created quarterly meetups that grew in popularity, becoming monthly gatherings. She made new friends with similar interests (catching movie matinees and going on road trips) and became more fit by attending a dance class three times a week.
The new connections Iris made provided a reason to set her alarm each morning. She left her house and socialized every day. She discovered new restaurants and entertainment venues. While she had previously taught square dancing for 45 years, Iris became a student and learned the boot scootin’ boogie, cha cha slide, and watermelon crawl.
The health benefits of having a purpose
A recent study of over 13,000 adults on Health and Retirement by the University of Michigan found that having a sense of purpose is associated with lower risk of heart disease, fewer strokes, better cardiovascular health, less memory loss, and fewer incidents of depression.
Purpose gives a greater will to live. In Iris’s case, she was missing the connection of her students and the friendship of her colleagues, but she found new purpose in serving others at LCAL. Her life, and the lives of countless seniors were forever changed because of this newfound purpose.
Now, let us consider how you can find your purpose. Ask yourself:
What did you like to do as a kid, teenager, and adult?
What gives you energy? When do you feel most alive?
What kind of people give you energy? What drains your energy?
Considering all of the above, here are some possible ways you could find your purpose.
If you enjoyed Consider
The world is full of opportunity. You must take advantage of it. If we can help you connect with a local organization don’t hesitate to reach out. We have seen firsthand what the right information and environment can do to improve the lives of our clients and their families. We are here to help. Call (239) 330-2133 or (212) 913-9963.