Wait. Did we just discover the meaning of life?

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“We are in the middle of a massive transformation." 

“We are creating our own reality.”

“I was overwhelmed with a desire to find meaning in my life.”

Source: Every Millennial I’ve interviewed in the last 9 months.

 

I started this blog almost a year ago, because I believe a major human shift is taking place, and that it’s being accelerated by the Millennial generation. Since then, I’ve spoken with Millennials from the U.S., India, Europe and Africa, and while they were unique individuals, each of them expressed the same sentiment:

They want their lives to have purpose.

Research indicates this sentiment is shared by Millennials everywhere. For example, in 2011, a report was commissioned by the Career Advisory Board. It found that what Millennials most want from their career is a sense of meaning, which the study defined as “the degree to which we feel our lives have purpose, value and impact.”  

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This is a significant change from studies several years ago. At that time, Millennials listed happiness as their top priority. Since then, as a result of events like the Great Recession, they’ve decided that they are more interested in building an equitable world.

Sociologists say that prioritizing meaning over happiness is significant, because happiness is self-oriented, while meaning is other-oriented. So, Millennials deciding to focus their energy on meaning instead of happiness means the biggest generation in history has decided to dedicate itself to helping others. And they reached that decision in a very short timespan!

This generational shift is awe-inspiring on its own, but when considered in the context of some new research, it starts to look like the sign of an even more significant universal change.

Last month, the results of a study were announced in Psychological Science. Two professors, Patrick Hill and Nicholas Turiano, expanded on earlier studies which found that having a purpose in life lowers the risk of mortality. The research by Hill and Turiano analyzed data from over 6,000 participants who were  followed for 14 years. At the end of their study, they concluded that having a purpose does increase your lifespan, but more important, the increase occurs no matter how old you are when you discover your purpose!

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In other words, discovering a purpose (regardless of how old you are when you make the discovery) triggers a kind of re-set button that adds more time to your life clock.

Wow.

The bottom line:

The largest population in history has decided to pursue lives of meaning, which will be accomplished by focusing their efforts on making life better for others.

Researchers have discovered that incorporating meaning into your life – no matter how old you are – helps you live longer.

So…did scientists and Millennials just discover a new formula for living longer and more satisfying lives?

If so, wouldn’t that constitute an evolutionary advancement?

Humans. We definitely seem to be having a moment.