Purpose Across the Lifespan

Research links a strong sense of purpose with better mental and physical health. Yet what it actually means to have a sense of purpose can often feel elusive, as can the specific benefits of purpose and concrete strategies for honing it. Fortunately, researchers have been deepening the scientific study of purpose and shedding light on what purpose is, why it matters, and how to develop it--not only during the formative years of adolescence but throughout one's life.

In 2020, the GGSC launched the Purpose Across the Lifespan project with our partner Encore.org, which helps people over 50 find meaningful opportunities to discover a new sense of purpose. Across several of the GGSC’s platforms, we’ll raise awareness about the importance of sharpening a sense of purpose at various stages of life—from childhood to young adulthood to elderhood—including through:

  • a series of articles and a quiz on our Greater Good online magazine about the forms purpose can take at different stages of life, drawing on science, programs, and stories;
  • adding purpose to the GGSC’s Keys to Well-Being, including a new page defining the What, Why, and How of purpose; 
  • new research-based practices to help cultivate purpose on our Greater Good in Action website;
  • a series of episodes on purpose for our Science of Happiness podcast, featuring stories of purpose-driven transformation; 
  • a day-long public event on “Finding Purpose Across the Lifespan,” featuring a mix of research, inspiring stories, and practical strategies that attendees can apply to their own lives and work;
  • leading up to that event, we’ll host a series of webinars, featuring conversations with leading experts on purpose;

Our goal is for all of this work to help inspire and guide countless people to consider how they can find or reignite their own sense of purpose, no matter their stage of life.