Making Life Meaningful At Any Age

September 8, 2009 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

imageOne of the biggest challenges facing us as we age are the changes in our sense  of purpose.   The children are grown, there are no more PTA meetings to attend, we no longer punch in our time clocks or dart from business meeting to business meeting.

Whether it’s Empty-Nest Syndrome or the  Retiree Blues, it’s easy to find ourselves floundering as our lives change, and the meaning which has driven us for decades falls away.  When we reach the place of thinking “Why am I doing this, what’s the point?” we’re tumbling towards depression – and that’s a risky place to be, when it comes to having a healthy and well brain.

Depression is devastating to cognitive health.  In the short term, it reduces physical activity levels, disrupts sleep patterns, makes eating well a challenge, and causes social isolation – all of which are the opposite of what’s recommended for keeping the brain healthy.   And in the long run, depression can actually kill off brain cells, causing key areas of the brain to shrink – especially those most crucial to forming and processing memories.

So, how do we stay out of the “mindset of meaningless”?  One method is to  changing our approach – instead of expecting the world around us to define our purpose in life, we can choose to make our life meaningful to the world.  When we decide our life is important, our actions become important, and we have a reason for eating better, exercising, and all of the other things that are good for our brain’s health.

Here are a few tips:

  • Accept that since you’re alive, your life has meaning and purpose in this world.   Even a simple blade of grass serves multiple purposes (converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, feeding bugs, helping to create a lovely lawn). You’re a much more complicated being, and no doubt serve in many more complicated roles than you imagine.
  • Don’t seek only grand purposes like “create world peace” or “stop world hunger” – acknowledge that simply smiling at a stranger who might be having a bad day is meaningful.
  • Think about how many small actions on the parts of others have impacted you –  has something they’ve said changed your mood or life?  Did they say a kind word, or help you reach something on a top shelf? Think about how your actions impact others, similarly.
  • Seek meaningful activities: Tend a vegetable garden, and offer the produce to neighbors.   Listen to people who just need a friendly ear.  Adopt a shelter dog or cat. .  Again, it doesn’t have to be formal volunteer work or community service in order to have meaning, or be helpful.  All sorts of small tasks carry meaning in our lives.
  • Consider ways to tie the purposes of your past, to a meanignfulpresent and future: Write your memoirs. Paint a picture.  Make scrap books that  share your personal story, insight and history with others. Make a quilt made from your vintage clothing, and write a little booklet that goes with it, with photos and information on the clothing.  Go through your house, and write little stories about any items you’ve found meaningful in life – with the idea that even when you’re gone, your things will carry meaning to others

Make your life have meaning – make it have multiple meanings.  Make it a challenge to find ways to make each little action more meaningful. Think about how  each breath, each meal, each exercise has meaning, and helps you to accomplish grander purposes.  By focusing on the meaningfulness of your life, you’ll lift your mood and your spirits, reduce the impact and risks of depression, exercise your brain and as a bonus? Improve your overall cognitive health!

Entry filed under: Purpose. Connection & Spirit. Tags: , , , , .

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About This Blog

A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • A Sense of Purpose & Connection
Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness



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