Everyday Ways to Support Successful Aging: Purpose

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Having purpose in life is a key to aging well. There’s no group that knows that better than residents in Blue Zones®, five regions in the world where people seem to live the longest. In fact, Blue Zones’ researchers say having purpose can add up to seven years to your life expectancy. The trouble is many of us feel a bit lost in retirement, not really knowing where we belong without our identity tied to work. What’s more, as COVID-19 continues to keep us isolated at home, our options to discover new purpose seems even more limited. We can help with these tips!

For more information on how we incorporate the Blue Zones’ approach to fitness in senior living, check out our Successful Secrets to Aging Guide!

senior living guide to aging well

Purposeful Living in the Blue Zones

The Blue Zones regions include: Sardinia, Italy; the Greek island of Ikaria; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica and Okinawa, Japan. Research in these Blue Zones has found that residents share similar lifestyle traits known as the Power 9®.  We’ve discussed all these traits in past blogs [link], but the idea of “why I wake up in the morning” is how these residents define purpose. The Okinawans refer to it as “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida.”

Finding Your Purpose

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to go about finding renewed purpose in retirement, but these tips can get you started.

Check Your Frame of Mind – It’s important that you’re open to new opportunities and that you don’t put pressure on yourself to find purpose right away or let fear or failing derail you. Having the right frame of mind will allow you to enjoy the process and quite simply, to get more out of it.

Take Stock – Think about what talents, strengths and abilities you have to offer. In addition, consider foods, books, movies, hobbies and even types of people you are drawn to. Then explore what attracts you to these things and how you might be able to expand on them.

Go Back –  As we go from children to the responsibilities of adulthood, sometimes we forget the things that once brought us true joy. This is a great opportunity to think back yourself and/or to ask childhood friends and family members what they remember you being passionate about.

Make a Difference – Often, finding purpose can be as easy as helping others. Maybe there’s a cause already near to your heart or you could check with friends and family to see what organizations they support.

Making It Happen During COVID-19

As we mentioned earlier, it may seem too hard to try anything new right now. But, being isolated at home for extended periods can be hard on your physical and mental health. With all this extra time, finding renewed purpose may be easier than you think. Safely, of course.

If you’re considering volunteering, check out VolunteerMatch or SeniorCorps  to see what opportunities might be available in your area. There are also plenty of online opportunities to learn something new from instruments to languages to Ivy League classes through Class Central or TakeLessons. If you’re considering getting more fit, try free, on-demand classes through the YMCA. Even if travelling is more your thing, you can go ahead and plan your next trip with these handy resources from Kayak.

For more information check out our COVID-19 Survival Guide for Seniors (and those who love them), or contact a community near you to arrange a virtual tour!