The Benefits of Living a Meaningful Life - A New Year’s resolution well worth making

The start of the New Year is a popular time to take stock—to think about goals achieved in the past year and those yet to be realized. When it comes to making resolutions, many people focus on getting more exercise, eating a more nutritious diet, or reducing stress (all worthwhile efforts, of course!). But you may want to look beyond these traditional to-do’s and take steps to live a more meaningful life.

Having purpose, it turns out, is good for you: Living a meaningful life can help improve sleep, decrease risk of stroke, heart attacks, and dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and even help prevent early death. That’s quite a list! To live a more meaningful life, you need to determine the activities and behaviors that allow you to connect with your values and personal goals. Here’s an exercise that can help you do that:

  1. For seven days, write down your daily activities and how much time you spend doing them. If you spend more than 15 minutes doing something, note it.
  2. At the end of the week, add up how much time you spent on each activity.
  3. Rate how pleasurable and meaningful each activity was on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most pleasurable or meaningful.
  4. Note those activities that ranked highest in pleasure, in meaning, and in both categories.

Through this exercise, you will have the information you need to more closely align your resolutions with what you value most and what’s enjoyable to you—and you will be one step closer to living a healthy, purpose-driven life.