Living a life of intention or having a purpose in life, especially as you age, is integral to healthy living and longevity. Many studies have shown that having a sense of meaning and purpose can provide protection against Alzheimer’s, disabilities, cardiovascular problems, and impairment and lead to longer, happier lives.
When we are younger, it is easier to find fulfillment in our lives because we have busy lifestyles full of activities, social engagement, and big dreams. Many of us spend time raising children, building careers, and then caring for our parents. But as we age, our lifestyles slow down. Separation from family and friends, failing health, and fewer opportunities for engagement make it harder to feel that you are living a life of intention. Many older adults find themselves searching for new ways to find meaning and purpose in their lives. This is a normal and healthy process to go through.
How does someone maintain this sense of purpose or discover new purpose as they age? The recent pandemic has shown us all how important social interaction is for our well-being. Pre-pandemic, older adults could see their children and grandchildren, visit friends and neighbors, and volunteer in their communities. The pandemic left many older adults feeling isolated and struggling to find meaning and purpose in their days. Now, with restrictions from the pandemic lifted, seniors are more eager than ever to reclaim meaning and purpose in their lives.
To help older adults, Psychology Today talks about nine paths to consider as you age (we touch upon eight): work mission; love and friendship; compassion for others; small joys and pleasures; staying strong and healthy; creative projects and play; and contributing to the improvement of the world. These paths are good for everyone to focus on each day, especially as you age.
While many older adults may have retired, they often volunteer to complete that work mission. Keeping relationships alive and even forging new ones are so important to fulfilling the path of love and friendship. Having compassion for others can go a long way, and it can be as easy as talking to a stranger in a store or touching base with a friend you know may need to hear from someone. Keeping your body strong and healthy will allow you to have the strength and endurance to get out and live the life you want.
When it comes to small joys and pleasures, the Japanese concept ikigai explains this path most succinctly. As BBC.com explains, the word is not directly translatable into the English language, but it represents happiness in living. “Japanese people believe that the sum of small joys in everyday life results in more fulfilling life as a whole.” Could this be why they have some of the oldest living people in the world? In Japan, “Older people are celebrated, they feel obligated to pass on their wisdom to younger generations.” As a result, they have a sense of purpose, giving to those younger and their communities.
With more time on your hands after retirement, there is more time for creative projects and play. Getting involved in a weekly card game, meeting up with friends for golfing, or picking up art all contribute to happiness. Contributing to the world around you, even if it is just your town or neighborhood, can be incredibly satisfying and certainly motivating to inspire you to get up and out each day. While leaving a legacy can connotate what you will leave in your will, it is also about what impact you hope to leave on the world. How do you want to be remembered? These paths are suggestions for ways to create a sense of purpose and help you live a life of intention.
At Inspīr, we offer a transformative senior living experience that elevates every aspect of senior care while curating an environment and lifestyle that supports vibrant living and meaningful connections. Our lifestyle experiences offered both inside our residence and throughout the city are intentionally designed to inspire residents to live active and engaged lives. We offer programs and perspectives from a variety of engagement partners to help residents find new meaning and purpose in their lives. Each day, we purposefully integrate our Nine Core Elements into daily activities, helping residents reignite old passions, discover new interests, and learn and grow in exciting ways.