The Japanese call it ‘ikigai’, and Nicoyans ‘plan de vida’. Essentially it means “why I wake up in the morning”, and it’s your reason for being, or your purpose.

It can sometimes feel that there’s too much pressure to find our life’s purpose, but having one may help act as a buffer against stress and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke and arthritis. An 11 year study following people aged between 65 and 92 found that those with a clear goal in life – something to get up for in the morning – lived longer and were mentally sharper than those who didn’t.

But before you raise your stress levels worrying about finding your purpose, consider this: A sense of purpose doesn’t need to be complex, radical or far-reaching. It can be as simple as seeing your children or grandchildren grow up, or come from your job or a hobby, especially if you can get into what’s called a ‘state of flow’ where you become fully immersed in what you’re doing. If you’re interested, check out this TED talk by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi (pronounced chick-sent-me-high), who created the idea of flow.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck, here are a few suggestions for implementing Blue Zones Lesson 4:

  • Ask yourself the following questions: “What am I passionate about? What are my talents and how do I enjoy using them?” “What is truly important to me?” “What activities do I get so engrossed in that I lose track of time?”
  • Learn something new – taking up a musical instrument or learning a new language are two of the best things to do to keep our brains sharp, but learning any new skill or trying something you’ve always wanted to do – whether it’s cheese-making, cake decorating, or car maintenance can provide a sense of purpose and meaning.
  • Make time to do the things that give you a sense of purpose and achievement and make your heart sing. Life is busy: if we don’t make the time our days are too easily filled with things we feel we ought to do.

If you’d like help implementing Blue Zones tips, or staying motivated and inspired to achieve your health and wellness goals, please get in touch.

Source: The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest.