In 2007, Professors John Cacioppo and Steve Cole discovered that the genes of people who felt lonely were altered in ways that reduced their ability to fight off viruses and increased their risks of inflammatory diseases.
In 2010-13, Cole and psychologist Barbara Fredrickson looked for the opposite effect: they studied the genes of people living highly connected, hedonistic lives, as well as the genes of people who lived lives built around purpose.
What they found was that the hedonistic lifestyles had no measurable effect on genes. But the genes of people who lived purposeful lives showed improved antiviral response and reduced risk of inflammatory diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Three larger studies have since shown similar results.
This genetic effect implies that purpose is somehow connected with evolution, but that’s a story for another day.
The point here is that living in line with your purpose not only makes you freer and more focused, it also changes the way your genes express themselves, making you healthier and enabling you to live longer.
Adapted from Inner Leadership.