How the search for meaning in life affects health

How the search for meaning in life affects health
How the search for meaning in life affects health

A study by American scientists revealed that the physical and cognitive abilities of people who answered the question for themselves why they live are higher than those who are still looking for the meaning of life. They also get sick less. The results of the study are published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

A study conducted by scientists at the California Medical University, San Diego, showed that having meaning in life improves physical and mental health, while the process of finding meaning is associated with worries and poor health.

Dilip V Jeste, MD, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine - Many people think of purpose in life philosophically, but understanding meaning is associated with better health, wellness, and longevity. those who have meaning in life are happier and healthier than those who don't."

The baseline for the study was the results of three-year cross-sectional surveys of 1,042 San Diego County, California residents aged 21 to 100 years. The state of searching for meaning was described by the words "I am looking for a goal or mission for my life", and the state when the meaning was found - "I have found a life that satisfies me."

Scientists found that in different age groups the percentage of people satisfied with their lives varied significantly. The maximum number was among 60-year-olds.

“When you’re young, say twenty, you’re unsure of your career, your life partner, and who you are as a person. You’re looking for meaning in life,” says Jest. “As you get to thirty, forty at fifty, you have a more stable relationship, maybe you are married and you have a career. The search decreases, and the meaningfulness of life increases."

“After 60 years, everything starts to change. People leave work and begin to lose their identity. They develop health problems, their friends and relatives gradually pass away. They again begin to look for a new meaning in life, because the meaning that they were once, changed."

However, within the age groups, the best indicators in physical and mental health were demonstrated by those who at this stage of their life decided for themselves the question of the meaning of life.

Scientists believe that meaningfulness of existence is an important medical, clinically significant parameter that can be used to improve the condition of patients.

“We expect our results to serve as a basis for the development of new therapeutic methods,” says Awais Aftab, MD and first author of the article.

According to the authors, in the next stages of the study, they want to study how such human conditions as wisdom, loneliness and compassion affect health and longevity, and also to find out whether biomarkers of stress and aging are associated with the search for meaning in life.