Ayn Rand identifies purpose (along with reason and self-esteem) as a cardinal value in life. She writes,
My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists -- and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason -- purpose -- Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge -- Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve -- Self-esteem, as is inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man's virtues, and all of his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride. (The Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 523).
Now check this out!
A new study has found that apart from medication and adopting a healthy lifestyle, having a sense of purpose in life reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke. The study conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt, defined this purpose as a passion for life. It is when one has a sense of meaning and direction and he feels that life is worth living, the researchers stated in the press release. [This reminds me of Rand's statement in "The Objectivist Ethics": The maintenance of life and the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues. To hold one's own life as one's ultimate value, and one's own happiness as one's highest purpose are two aspects of the same achievement. Existentially, the activity of pursuing rational goals is the activity of maintaining one's life; psychologically, its result, reward and concomitant is an emotional state of happiness.... And when one experiences ther kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself -- the kind that makes one think: "This is worth living for" -- what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself. (The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 29)]
Previous research has proven that having a goal in life is extremely beneficial to psychological well being but the new research by the Mount Sinai researchers has shown that a purpose in life can benefit heart health as well. Lead author Randy Cohen, MD, a preventive cardiologist at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt explains the relationship between having a goal and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Cohen states that just having a purpose can be life saving and there is a strong relationship between the two. He suggests that everyone should begin asking themselves as to what the purpose of their life is and in the circumstance of one finding that he has no goal or purpose, one should develop it. He states, “You need to work toward the important goal of obtaining one for your overall well-being."
The study found that having a purpose in life reduces the risk of death from any cause by 23 percent and reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or a cardiac stenting procedure by 19 percent.
For the research data collected from 137,000 people across 10 studies was taken into account and the relationship between having a purpose in life and cardiovascular health was analysed. They found that those with no purpose in life were at a higher probability of developing a cardiovascular disease and were at a risk of dying early. Whereas with those with a purpose, the analysis found the opposite to be true.
Alan Rozanski, MD, study co-author and Director of Wellness and Prevention Programs for Mount Sinai Heart at the Mount Sinai Health System stated that this isn’t the first research to bring to light the impact positive emotions have on the heart. Previous research, he points also states that negative feelings of anxiety and depression contribute to heart diseases and positive factors such as optimism and social support benefits heart health. "Based on our findings, future research should now further assess the importance of life purpose as a determinant of health and well-being and assess the impact of strategies designed to improve individuals' sense of life purpose," he states.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association's EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions in Baltimore on March 6.