So there are three aspects of this four-minute NPR piece that I find interesting.
First, the quite obvious notion that having a sense of purpose in one’s life—no matter when we finally stumble on it—is a good and beneficial thing, can maybe even keep us healthier and living longer.
The second is that being creative is one important way to live a purposeful and, hence, longer life:
"Of course, purpose means different things to different people. [Professor] Hill says it could be as simple as making sure one's family is happy. It could be bigger, like contributing to social change. It could be more self-focused, like doing well on the job. Or it could be about creativity.
"‘Often this is individuals who want to produce something that is appreciated by others in written or artistic form, whether it's music, dance or visual arts,’ Hill says."
The third has to do with the apparently stressful prospect of riding public transportation “through the diverse neighborhoods of Chicago,” something I’ve been doing quite regularly since I sold my last car in 1987.
Listen to the piece first—it’s short—then consider my response:
So, as for the study conducted to determine how having a purpose might reduce stress, I’d like to suggest that if students in the experimental group had been asked to do more creative writing while on the train, e.g., describe one of the passengers in some detail or tell an imagined story about one of them—perhaps the effect on stress, and therefore on health, might have even been greater.
In other words, make the writing less self-centered--less about me, me, me--and more about the world in which we find ourselves.
That kind of writing could even be “appreciated by others," and while helping us live longer.