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Ikigai is a Japanese word meaning a reason for being. Simply put, ikigai is your purpose. It’s what gets you up in the morning.

 What is your purpose in life? For many of us, our purpose revolves around our family and loved ones. For others, there’s a passion for our career, or reaching a goal such as running a marathon.

I want to challenge you to find more ikigai, or purpose, in your life.

Why? Would it surprise you to learn that when you have a sense of meaning and purpose, your risk of heart disease also decreases?

Or consider the following two studies that further demonstrate the health effects of purpose:

  • People with a low sense of purpose were more likely to have a stroke, heart attack, or coronary artery disease requiring a stent or bypass surgery.

Reference: Cohen and colleagues, Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

  • With a higher sense of purpose, people lived significantly longer and had 52 percent less chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Reference: 2014 Lancet study and the Rush Memory and Aging Project

Let me repeat, research shows you could cut your risk of getting Alzheimer’s in halfthrough living a life with purpose. Isn’t that exciting?

But did you ever notice that when you visit most doctors, they don’t ask about purpose? The vast majority of doctors don’t think to understand your goals, passions, and hobbies even though it affects your likelihood of major health problems.

If you already know your purpose, that’s fantastic. Continue to push forward and take on new challenges. It’s what helps us grow.

But, if you’re feeling that something is missing and you need more purpose in your life, I urge you to ask yourself the following questions:

What fulfills me?

Are you having trouble answering this question? That’s okay. Start a list of the things you enjoy and those you don’t. As simple as this sounds, it’s effective. You’ll start to see trends. Consider how you feel in the moment. What activities drain you versus filling you with energy and joy?

What can I do to add purpose to my life today?

Ever started an extreme diet or exercise plan where you tried to summon all your willpower only to have it fizzle out after a few days? Me too. I’ve been there, done that, and I know it doesn’t work.

We make massive changes in our lives when we start small. Pick one thing you want to work on. Maybe it’s spending more time with your kids, or learning how to play guitar.

Ask yourself, “What can I do to add purpose to my life today?” when you get up in the morning. Commit to just one small activity each day. Even five to ten minutes a day will start to become a habit over time.

Once a week, make notes on what you have done to make your goals a reality. What can you do next week to stay on track?

Changing your life or working toward a goal doesn’t have to spend your life. You can fit meaningful change in your life by doing little things each day.



Dr. Partha Nandi’s book, Ask Dr. Nandi: 5 Steps To Being Your Own #HealthHero For Longevity, Wellness & A Joyful Life is your health blueprint. A board-certified, full-time practicing internist and gastroenterologist for the last 20 years, Dr. Nandi’s TV show, Ask Dr. Nandi, reaches 95 million people in the U.S. and health-conscious people in 90 countries across the planet. He has helped thousands of patients make amazing health transformations. By following any one of the five simple steps in his plan, you can turn off disease and turn on your anti-aging DNA. Join the more than 1 million people who follow Dr. Nandi.

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