According to decades of research, there are few things more important to mental stamina than having a sense of purpose. A 2009 study found that the importance of purpose starts in early childhood, and that teaching kids to find a sense of meaning leads not only to improved grades but a decreased risk of depression later in life.
And when it comes to cultivating resilience, purpose is key: One large study found that the ability to find meaning from life's experiences predicts a greater ability to bounce back from negative life events. Another study conducted earlier this year found that people over the age of 60 are less likely to suffer from restless leg syndrome and have better sleep quality overall when they feel a strong sense of purpose.
Unfortunately, snapping your fingers and immediately finding meaning isn't an option. So we consulted Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the Omega Institute (an adult education center that focuses on wellness, creativity, and spirituality) and three-time author of books that focus on finding meaning and bouncing back from loss. "The body needs food, water, and rest," she says. "The soul needs love, courage, and purpose."