Okay, we’re not actually going to say you can stop going to the gym. However, we are going to suggest that there is more to living a healthy life than sweat and kale salads. Even though a healthy diet and active lifestyle can lead to a long, productive life, a study by University College of London says there is another factor we should be considering: well-being. We know that happy people are healthy people, but this research suggests that having a sense of purpose in your life can actually increase your lifespan.
The study surveyed over 1,000 English men and women over the age of 65 and found that the people with the highest sense of well-being were 30% less likely to die during the eight-and-a-half year study than those with a poor sense of well-being. So what exactly is well-being? Generally, happiness researchers refer to “well-being” as the feeling of being in control, feeling like what you are doing is meaningful and worthwhile and having a sense of purpose in life. The study showed that when you increase your sense of well-being, you can actually improve your physical health.
For those of us still in our younger years, what can we take away from this research? For starters, it’s time to figure out what makes you tick and what gives you a sense of purpose. Pursue your passions like your life depends on it (because it kind of does) and invest in a lifestyle — from hobbies to your career — that gives you happiness and peace of mind. Research also suggests that we should be drinking more wine, having more sex and taking more naps if we want to live longer. See, we told you being healthier sounded like fun.
Don’t work yourself into the ground. Interestingly, the study showed that well-being tends to decline during our middle age, when we are actually making the most money. As we work longer hours, our happiness decreases, regardless of how much money we are making. Take time to unplug from technology and connect with real friends. Having a strong group of friends who you can depend on also plays a role in how long you’ll live, so maybe it’s time to finally plan that BFF road trip this summer.
How would you rate your sense of well-being? Do you need to take some time to find your sense of purpose? Tell us what you think of this study in the comments below!