Washington: Researchers have said that feeling that you have a sense of purpose in life may help you live longer, no matter what your age.
The research has clear implications for promoting positive ageing and adult development, says lead researcher Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada.
Hill said that their findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose.
He said so the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.
Previous studies have suggested that finding a purpose in life lowers risk of mortality above and beyond other factors that are known to predict longevity.
Hill and colleague Nicholas Turiano of the University of Rochester Medical Center looked at data from over 6000 participants, focusing on their self-reported purpose in life and other psychosocial variables that gauged their positive relations with others and their experience of positive and negative emotions.
Over the 14-year follow-up period represented in the MIDUS data, 569 of the participants had died (about 9 per cent of the sample). Those who had died had reported lower purpose in life and fewer positive relations than did survivors.
Greater purpose in life consistently predicted lower mortality risk across the lifespan, showing the same benefit for younger, middle-aged, and older participants across the follow-up period.
The research has been published in the journal Psychological Science.