These days, we are learning more about memory loss because of the huge amount of information that has been disseminated about the brain in past 40 years or so. Many of us have also experienced the sadness of having people close to us go through memory decline, and pain and frustration this brings for all concerned.There is a lot of information on brain health, particularly on dealing with cognitive decline. Most of it is helpful in strengthening core brain functions such as memory or even relieving some psychological symptoms. But, by not including the psycho-spiritual aspect in our understanding of brain wellness, we miss out on an opportunity to augment and enhance brain functioning.While often connected with religion or religiosity, this is certainly not a must. You can be religious in observances but can often still give up on hope and relatedness, and connection, the best part of which is focusing as much – or more – on the well-being of others rather than dwelling just on your own issues and disappointments.One focus of research is into what is now called Purpose in Life (PIL) suggesting that finding purpose in one’s life could reduce risk of dementia, strokes, and have a profound impact not only on brain function but also on the quality and measure of your life.In general terms, purpose is linked to why we face each morning with hopeful anticipation. Without it, it is more difficult to deal with ordinary events, never mind changes and challenges. Your purpose could be as lofty as discovering a cure for a disease, or as simple as being consistently kind towards others, creating art, sharing what you know through teaching.While PIL is a philosophical concept, scientists have investigated its practical, biological impact. In particular, it seems that having a sense that one’s life has purpose significantly supports health of the central nervous system. It might be a good place to mention that you need not wait till cognitive decline sets in to examine your purpose.We cannot speak of this without referencing Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning that I insist everyone reads. As Frankl writes, “Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.”Marguerite Theophil
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