What do I really want? This is surely a question that has crossed your mind at one time or another in your life. And this internal questioning would be far from trivial for health, according to a study published in JAMA Current Open May 24. People who set goals in life are the same people who live the longest, researchers have found. However, this is a correlation, not causation.
A strong life purpose
The researchers analyzed data from 7,000 American adults between the ages of 51 and 61. Participants completed psychological questionnaires in relation to their life goals. For example, they had to respond to statements such as: “Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I’m not one of them”. The scientists compared this information to that of their physical health.
People who did not have a strong life purpose – defined as a “self-organized life goal that drives goals” – were ultimately more likely to die than those who had it, especially from cardiovascular disease. In 2006 and 2010, they indeed presented an increased risk twice as great as the others. A proven observation whatever the income of the volunteers, their sex, their origins or their level of education. Surprisingly, having a goal reduced the risk more than quitting drinking and smoking, or exercising.
Basic psychological need
“I approached the question with a very skeptical eyeconfess to the National Public Radio Celeste Leigh Pearce, one of the study authors and associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan (USA). But I found it so convincing that I’m going to develop a whole research program around the question. » For Alan Rozanski, professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York (United States) interviewed by the American media, the need to give meaning to one’s life is the “deepest driver of well-being”. “Just as people have basic physical needs, like sleeping, eating and drinking, they have basic psychological needs. The need for goal is #1”he explains.
Moreover, according to the researchers, the health benefit is not in the nature of the goal, but simply in having one. “For some, it may be raising children. For others, it may be volunteeringsays Celeste Leigh Pearce. Where your fulfillment in life comes from can be very individual. »
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