New study shows purpose works to reduce the effects of loneliness

A new study conducted by researchers in Switzerland discovered that feelings of loneliness were less common in people who reported a purposeful life, regardless of age, Psychology Today reported.

The isolation caused by all the COVID mandates led to a spike of as much as 60 percent of people admitting to be lonely. I think seasoned citizens were impacted more than any other group.

Although the problem with loneliness eased in the past year, researchers noted it remains a problem for people over 70. In fact, the story suggested having a sense of purpose may even be more important for older adults.

That does not surprise me. After shutting down my business four years ago, I was adrift in feelings of depression because I didn’t know what I could or should do with my life. I wanted to do something meaningful, but didn’t exactly know what to pursue. As a result, I lacked motivation to do anything but watch television and doomscroll through endless news stories that only left me angry and more depressed.

Alleviating loneliness requires more than just being around other people. You can have that by going grocery shopping or strolling through your local Walmart. The key is to have a sense of purpose regardless of how many people are around you. After all, if your life has purpose, you’re often content being by yourself for longer periods of time.

According to the article, a sense of purpose is defined as the general perception that you have something leading and directing you from one day to the next that is important to you and that you care about it.

Researchers noted that setting a goal that is too high for some seasoned citizens to achieve, such as solving a global or national problem, can lead to additional stress all by itself. But I have found there certainly are greater benefits when your purpose works to help someone else rather than zero in on something that impacts you alone.

A PDF of the study is available from the American Psychological Association for $17.95.

The full story is available at the Psychology Today website.

The study is attracting a lot of attention among medical journals as well as consumer platforms. Additional analysis is available at Neuroscience News.