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Purpose and Health

Carol Ryff's exploration of well-being focuses heavily on purpose and its connection to longer, healthier living. Those with a strong sense of purpose show more resilience against cognitive and physical impairments such as Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and osteoporosis, especially as they age. The links between poor psychological health and cardiovascular disease are particularly well-characterized. Purpose also provides emotional tenacity in the face of pain and injustice, and has been linked to lower overall cortisol levels, which in turn could further relieve stress. 

Ryff, C. D. (2018). Well-Being With Soul: Science in Pursuit of Human Potential. Perspectives on Psychological Science13(2), 242–248.

Heller, A. S., van Reekum, C. M., Schaefer, S. M., Lapate, R. C., Radler, B. T., Ryff, C. D., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Sustained ventral striatal activity predicts eudaimonic well-being and cortisol output. Psychological Science, 24, 2191–2200.

Kubzansky, L.D.,  Huffman, J.C.,  Boehm, J.K., Hernandez, R.,  Kim, E.S., Koga, H.K., ..., Labarthe, D.R. (2018). Positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular disease: JACC health promotion series J. Am. Coll. Cardiol., 72(12), pp. 1382-1396.

Purpose and Health