Thriving with Love.Life

5 Surprising Ways to Increase Your Lifespan & Improve Quality of Life

2 min read

One of the most important, but often overlooked, contributors to longevity is social connection and purpose. Social connection — defined as a sense of community, friendship, and belonging with others — is something that’s lacking in culture across all age groups. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has highlighted loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection as a public health crisis in our country. Being socially isolated has the same impact on mortality rates as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day while being socially connected can increase odds of survival by 50%. And, being socially isolated may increase your risk of heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32%.   

Having a sense of purpose is also important when it comes to long-term health and longevity. Studies suggest that people who have purpose take better care of their health — they’re more likely to get a cholesterol test, a mammogram, and on average spend 17% fewer nights in a hospital. For many, purpose and social connection also means a connection to religion or spirituality, which can also be positive. Research shows that weekly involvement in a weekly spiritual service can lead to a 28% risk reduction in mortality.  

Self-transcendence, or experiencing something greater than yourself, is a benefit that can come with or without a connection to religion or spirituality. Studies show that transcendence can not only increase your lifespan but also your quality of life as you age. For many, this benefit comes alongside spirituality, but others experience transcendence through the impact of their careers, multiple generational family happiness, a fulfilling life as a caregiver, or volunteer work.

The Biological Protection of Purpose 

While we know that psychological well-being and physical health are connected, science doesn’t yet understand how. One potential link may be inflammation. Chronic stress, which can be a result of loneliness and lack of purpose can cause your immune cells to activate genes that trigger inflammation. Research has identified inflammation to be a root cause of more than 50% of all deaths. This includes death by heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease. Meanwhile, strong purpose has been linked to lower levels of inflammation.  

Achieving purpose, spirituality, and transcendence  

Take a step closer to having more purpose in your life with these 5 tips:

  1. Participate in activities that shift the focus from self to others such as volunteering, caregiving, or donating your time to others.  
  2. Find your flow state — or “theta” — where you work diligently on an end goal with undivided attention and focus. Practicing this regularly can help you move toward mastery and excellence of a practice or skill.  
  3. Seek out new ideas about wisdom, philosophy, or right and wrong, and discern your moral code. Try and grow toward this ideal.  
  4. Focus on experiencing a daily sense of awe or amazement. Regularly go outside in nature and connect and find inspiration from the world around you. Look for collective effervescence.  
  5. Bring light and positivity to the center of your life by finding joy, laughter, and happiness in the simplicity of life.  

List adapted from recommendations on self-transcendence found here.


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