A couple of days ago I read the following news item on the BBC:
Dr Patrick Hill, of the department of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, said the notion of living a life of purpose – setting large goals that direct your day-to-day activities – seemed to be protective on a number of fronts.
“In this study it is mortality, but other studies have shown people report better health,” he told BBC News.
“There is clearly a benefit from feeling a sense of direction or feeling you have these goals directing your day-to-day life.”
The full article can be found here.
The basic point of the news item is that people who live goal-oriented lives seem to be healthier and to live longer than people who don’t.
I was both perplexed and amused by this article.
One of the premises of meditation is that the psychological self, spread over time in the past and the future, is intrinsically insecure.
Contemplative traditions urge us to stay with the present moment in all its complexity and beauty as a way of understanding peace of mind, security and happiness, rather than living a life determined by future-oriented goals. My assumption has therefore been that staying in the present is a “healthier” way to live than being directed by time frames, particularly by looking to the future.
Of course, I may be misunderstanding some broader point in the study. Often reports of medical studies in the popular media tend to be misleading. But this report did give me a useful jolt with regard to examining my own assumptions!