I’ve written a few articles on Purpose in Life in relation to the medical literature. A few key rating instruments have been designed to assess this construct and have been used in lots of research in this area. However despite all of this, I think its reasonable to ask just exactly what’ Purpose in Life’ means. I don’t think there is a right answer but from the reviews below there are a few themes that have developed. Thus one feature of Purpose in Life is that it is holds meaning for a person. Another is that there is a social aspect to it. Having purpose is about finding a social meaning in life – a meaning which includes other people. This is not an abstract theoretical concept but from the studies below is a belief system that appears to hold significant health benefits. Admittedly many of the studies are small and need replication but there is a theme that keeps emerging. In addition to this, I would further refine this by suggesting that Purpose in Life is a collection of values and it is these values that possibly hold an important key to our very identity, how we forms groups and also to important aspects of our health. There are of course limitations to this approach. There are many factors which contribute to health which are independent of such values but values do hold an important and perhaps underappreciated place in discussions of health. Maybe there is a need to develop a language to describe these values in more detail although that language is partially developed in psychotherapeutic models. If values do play an important role in explaining what Purpose in Life is then perhaps the values which are likely to be shared will be important in more clearly defining Purpose in Life. An exploration of values may be a useful starting point.
Appendix – Blog Articles on Purpose in Life
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