The Meaning of Life

By Nigel Pritchard. Published 2020-07-29
As Boldies we say I am, not I was

In the Hitchhiker'sGuide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams the supercomputer Deep Thought said the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything" was 42. However, we never really learnt what it was answering. Was it possibly the meaning of life? something that philosophers down the ages have grappled with. Maybe this might help.

Well hold the front page, according to researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine they have found that on average we feel that our lives have most purpose around the age of 60. Now, I’m not sure how startling this is given most of us see this period from 55 onwards as a period of relevance, opportunity, re-invention and a time to add evenn more value to society. However, it’s still great knowing we’re not going mad and that the research reflects our positive outlook on our age and ageing. Plus its a period of life for all those opportunities we create for ourselves and those that lie in store.

The study tracked 1,000 people aged 21 to over 100 for 3 years and were regularly questioned on several areas, including how much purpose their existence held. Interestingly the more positive they were the better health they were in. Interviewed by the Times, Dilip Jeste Professor of Psychiatry and neuroscience at the University said that “our research shows that wellbeing and the meaning of life are intimately linked. Those with meaning in life are healthier and happier than those without it.”

The study goes on to show that those still searching for meaning had a worse cognitive functioning and lower sense of mental wellbeing. Doing a little more research, I came across several other studies, one from the University College in London that showed that happy people were more robust and fit. Their study followed 3,199 people aged 60 and above and examined the relationship between a positive outlook and physical well being over a period of 8 years. What I was surprised about was the evidence highlighting that those that were unhappy were three times more likely to develop issues in their ability to do physical activities. When researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analysed data from a long-running national study of adults over 50, in 2006 and again in 2010, comparing people’s physical changes with how they felt about their purpose in life they found a significant correlation. Those with a more positive purpose in life had a 13% decreased risk of developing a weak grip, and a 14% decreased risk of developing a slow walk, than those with a lower sense of purpose.

As a committed Boldie, I for one intend to enjoy the future with a clear sense of purpose and there is no better time than now as we age to look at things we want to do differently – why not include actions to increase our physical wellbeing through fostering increased positivity. For example,

  • Take a new career path
  • Start a business
  • Volunteer at...
  • Join a social event such as Parkrun
  • take up road cycling

Or even take on a challenge like climb Everest or take up ultra marathon runnng and become a world champion, like Yuchiro Miura who was 80 years old, when in 2013 he climbed Everest. Or, like Helen Klein who has completed 138 ultramarathons, and holds more than 75 World Records, who only started running at the young age of 55.


Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Great words and as Boldies we should not use age or life's challenges a s a barrrier to taking a more positive approach.

Simply put as Boldies we can say we are!, NOT we were.

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