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Having Purpose Can Improve Heart Health

Here’s opening up this post with loaded questions that, as you will find out later, can impact heart health:
What do you aim to achieve in life? What drives you in life? What are you living for?

A recent study conducted by Mount Sinai St Luke’s – Roosevelt Hospital revealed that a “sense of meaning or feeling that life is worth living” can improve your heart health significantly.

So this “sense of meaning or feeling that life is worth living” can mean differently for many people. It could mean completing 20 marathons in a year, baking with your family every week, or just hanging out with your pet dog in the living room.

Whatever task someone chooses to pursue, merely having the drive is beneficial.

Say yes to heart health

This is not the first study to link a sense of purpose with both physical and psychological benefits:

  • A 2009 study of 1,238 elderly people found that those with a sense of purpose lived longer.
  • A 2010 study of 900 older adults found that those with a greater sense of purpose were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Survey data often links a sense of purpose in life with increased happiness.

If you didn’t set any New Year’s resolutions for this year, don’t fret. Today is as good a day as any to make plans to change your life around.

Finding purpose doesn’t necessarily mean one has to start with something big like climbing Mount Everest. Purpose can be found in the smallest of things – what contribution would you like to make to your workplace? What difference would you want to leave upon your friends? What difference can you make in your neighbourhood?

TCM has a few views on the heart and heart health:

1. The heart is the ruler of the five organ networks. It commands the movements of the four extremities, it circulates the qi and the blood, it roams the realms of the material and the immaterial, and it is in tune with the gateways of every action. Therefore, coveting to govern the flow of energy on earth without possessing a heart would be like aspiring to tune gongs and drums without ears, or like trying to read a piece of fancy literature without eyes.

2. The heart is the emperor of the human body. Its subordinate officers are in charge of the nine orifices and their related functions. As long as the heart remains on its rightful path, the nine orifices will follow along and function properly. If the heart’s desires become abundant, however, the eyes will lose their sense of color, and the ears will lose their sense of sound. Thus it is said: ‘Keep your heart empty-this is the art of the heart through which the orifices can be mastered.’

Deviation above will necessarily cause malfunction below. Do not race your heart like a horse, or you will exhaust its energy. Do not fly your heart like a bird, or you will injure its wings. Never frantically move things around just for the sake of seeing what will happen. If you move things around you dislocate them from their proper place. If you will be calm and patient, everything will come to you by itself.

3. If the quality of heart blood is unblemished, the myriad of fine vessels in the face will be well supplied, and the person will present with a rosy and lustrous complexion. Chinese medicine, therefore, has traditionally regarded the face as a mirror of the condition of the heart. Again, the Neijing points out: “If the qi of the shaoyin hand (heart) network becomes obstructed, the blood vessels will cease to function. If the vessels cease to function, the blood will not move. If the blood does not move, the skin and body hair will lack nourishment. Thus the face will turn grey like lacquer and the blood will perish.”

The essential “looking” aspect of the four-fold system of Chinese diagnosis refers primarily to the observation of the face. Since the conditions of both blood and shen reflect here, the face can tell much about the general state of a person’s physical and emotional state. The Neijing’s “superior doctor”-also called shen (different character)-thus knows about the condition of a patient by looking at the face alone.

Perhaps taking care of your heart health doesn’t have so much to do with taking in fancy medicine or supplements. It could be as simple as making goals, sticking to it and believing why.