Why do you wake up in the morning?
Welcome to La Vie en Bleu a series where I share what Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, reveals as powerful and simple lessons that can help put anyone on the path to a healthier and happier life. We continue with the fifth of nine lessons from the Blue Zones, five unique communities that have common elements of diet, lifestyle and outlook on life that have led to not only an amazing number of years lived, but also a better quality of life.
Lesson Five: Purpose Now
Centenarians living in Nicoya call it plan de vida and Okinawans call it ikigai. It’s a strong sense of purpose that translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Research studies have shown a strong correlation between having a sense of purpose and longevity. People who express a clear goal in life—something to get up for in the morning—live longer than those who do not. This sense of purpose may act as a buffer against stress and help reduce chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and stroke.
Purpose can come from a job, a hobby, seeing children or grandchildren grow up, or being the primary caretaker of a pet. A new activity can also give one a sense of purpose. Learning a musical instrument or a new language provides the added bonus of helping to keep your brain active, engaged and sharp.
But what does a purpose-filled life actually look like and mean? If you ask a hundred people, you will probably get a hundred different answers. However, most people would probably agree that a life of purpose is a life worth living for, and perhaps one even worth dying for. A portion of a life with a strong sense of purpose should be devoted to something that inspires you, energizes you, and pulls your forward. A sense of purpose can come from something that responds to your unique talent or touch and makes a difference in your life and/or the world around you.
A purposeful life would naturally bring more meaning, love, laughter, wonder and adventure to your days and, at the end of your journey, you would look back on a life of significance, rather than regret. That strong sense of purpose is not just something we experience, it’s something we create.
If you currently don’t have a sense of purpose, how about starting to create yours by answering the following question in a single, memorable sentence: Why do you get up in the morning?
Tips and strategies to realize your purpose
Take time to see the big picture
Craft a personal mission statement. Consider what you’re passionate about, how you enjoy using your talents, and what is truly important to you.
Find a partner
Find someone—a friend, a family member, a spouse, a colleague—to whom you can communicate your life purpose, along with a plan for realizing it. Be sure that person can help you honestly assess your plan and successes.
Learn something new. Take up a new instrument or learn a new language. Both activities are among the most powerful things you can do to preserve your mental sharpness.
Have you started to put the lessons from the Blue Zones to work in your life? If so, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. La Vie en Bleu will continue with lesson number six from the Blue Zones on how to live a healthier and happier life. Won’t you join me?
Until then, I wish you abundance and a beautiful life filled with a strong sense of purpose, love, and happiness.
The Blue Zones include:
Nicoya, Costa Rica
Loma Linda, California