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Happiness, Longevity, and a Sense of Purpose: Key Factors to Promoting Resilience within the Human Spirit

When many think about our sense of purpose, we think about our careers and jobs. Although a sense of purpose can come from these journeys, there are other ways we uniquely contribute to the world- both big and small. In this, we will go into a deep dive into what a sense of purpose means and how it is intertwined with our happiness and longevity based on studies and the lives of others who were able to succeed in these endeavors.




For many people, happiness is obtained from external sources such as hobbies, a good diet, exercise, and sometimes materialistic things. However, one of the biggest proponents of promoting happiness is having positive relationships with people. Seeing the humanity in others and being a part of a community is one of the main factors to the happiest people, according to an 85-year Harvard study which studied the behaviors and lives of various people, from low socioeconomic to high socioeconomic status, on how certain people retain their happiness, which in effect, helped them live longer. 

Furthermore, Finland, the happiest country in the world, relies heavily on tending close relationships. It seems that practicing our social skills helps create more “brain muscle” which helps to ease life’s problems with the help of our friends, spouses, and family by becoming more resilient in the face of life’s struggles. In other words, being able to rely on someone and being reliable promotes homeostasis in our lives.


For this reason, this paper will further explain how longevity and our sense of purpose are heavily tied to our happiness. Being a part of a community and being satisfied in our relationships is one of the cures to many of our troubles.




Everyone wants a long, healthy, and meaningful life, but attaining that comes with a lot of resilience. Key communities called Blue Zones tell us how to be resilient in the face of life’s stressors which often reduce our quality of life and decrease the number of years we have. 


The first kind of resilience is doing gardening tasks. Besides, being a form of meditation that has been well-documented to lower our stress, anxiety, and dementia. Many of these critical blue zone communities are vegetable growers that sustain themselves with the food that they grow. Optimally, cutting food straight from one’s gardens provides the most nutritional value than buying vegetables from a store such as a supermarket, where the nutritional value decreases with each day it is in the market. Most of these vegetables were harvested several days before. Speaking of food, these blue zone communities mainly have a plant-based diet with some meat consumption in between. They also consume alcohol to socialize and have good times with others. However, it has been noted that red wine is better for alcohol consumption than other alcoholic drinks, which are seen in the Sardinian Blue Zone community. Furthermore, eating food until our stomachs are 80% complete is something the Okinowans, a Blue Zone community in Japan with many centenarians, hold. Eating until our bellies are full, and not depending on whether our plate is empty, is essential for teaching us to take care of ourselves based on our means and our bodies. This has been proven to extend one’s lifespan.   


Beyond gardening and food, socialization, as mentioned before, helps us produce the most happiness and is also a key factor to long any of the communities within Blue Zones have a solid connection to a faith-based organization. Such organizations promote community and belonging, which supports that everyone within a faith-based organization can rely on each other. In addition, good exercise and sleep are habits that promote long lives. Furthermore, exercise does not require a gym membership; simply walking more and being in the garden can have numerous physiological benefits.  Lastly, Blue Zones hold having a sense of purpose as another factor to their secret to having a long, healthy life.  




Ikigai,” what is your reason for waking up every morning? “Ikigai” is a more straightforward definition of one’s purpose in life. It is a Japanese word that means “reason to live.” Our happiness, like our purpose, is heavily influenced by our connections to our communities.  According to a study on old home care residents, feeling needed in a community gives us a sense of purpose. Whether large or small, having a sense of purpose can provide resiliency in people and helps us live longer


Resilience in the face of struggle is guided by a sense of purpose, as seen in a study that looked at a group of students who were told to take selfies of themselves and describe their purpose in the world. Afterward, they were given a response of well-liked, liked, and not favored for their selfies. Those who did not have an answer to their question had reactionary responses. In contrast, those who did have a solution to the question on purpose were not influenced by whichever response, meaning that whether they got a positive outcome or a negative one, they were largely unaffected. This speaks to the power of purpose.  When one has one, it is only ourselves that can change us. It is about our perspective on our place in the world, so external stimuli hold little to influence who we are as a person. 


Furthermore, another study strengthened this ability to stay grounded and unaffected. In this study, a group of students of various races was asked two questions before boarding a bus. Afterward, their reactions and journey would be recorded. The control group was asked about their favorite movie, while the experimental group was asked if they had a purpose. Whether the children of the experimental group could answer the question, they were left to ponder during the bus ride and could form close relationships with the others r. In contrast, those in the control group were seemingly still divided. Having a sense of purpose breaks down racially divisive barriers because there is more to occupy the mind than the color of someone’s skin or how different another person’s cultural background is.  


Besides the psychological benefits, there are physiological benefits and knowing our purpose in life. According to a psychosomatic medicine study, having a sense of purpose can lower cardiovascular disease and lessen mortality. According to another study, having a sense of purpose also reduces loneliness and leads people to make better choices about their health. 


To find one’s sense of purpose is to understand ourselves fully. In today’s world, with so much stimulation from phones, tablets, and computers, we are distracted by our inner thoughts. Our inner thoughts, though they may appear negative at the beginning, can slowly help us hone in on that very poignant and alarming question that a lot of us seek to leave unanswered. However, those that choose to answer it are left with immense peace since the search has stopped, and the journey has started.


A Happy and Long Life with Purpose


Everyone's sense of purpose, happiness, and even preferences in choosing how to live are all unique and individual, which is why there is no rigid list of how to live one’s life or even how to live it successfully. Still, the general factors to living a happy life contribute to one’s positive well-being. For example, one person’s purpose is to provide food and a loving well-maintained home for their family, while another person’s goal is to become a neurosurgeon to help research and study neurological conditions that matter to them. Both of these purposes in life make these individuals happy equally, and so, the question here is: what makes you happy in your journey? What is your “ikigai?”

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Tags: #happiness #longevity #blue zones #bluezones #senseofpurpose


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