The Amygdala is one of the oldest parts of the brain. Millions of years old because it is found in reptiles also.
It seeks to protect us from threats and triggers defensive responses. In experiments with people using day to day threatening tones as in work, schools etc it was found that this part of the brain was triggered in such situations. It causes behavioral change which can be maladaptive.
Surprisingly, people who had more Eudaimonic or Self Transcending Purpose (i.e a purpose to do good for others) displayed very little blood flow in the Amygdala, when such tones were used. Those who were in ways more selfish or hedonic were easily threatened, triggering a negative , stressful response in behaviour and in the immune system.
Other experiments also prove that greater selflessness in purpose enhances inner peace and mental health.
The Purpose of Life does not have to be lofty. It can be very humble. But if it motivates us and transcends our narrow selfish thinking, it shows us a better path to life. Attracting to us health, even wealth and success as positive psychology studies indicate.
Once John F Kennedy visited NASA. He met a worker whose job was menial. to lodge some screws in the Apollo aircraft.
The President asked him what work was he doing.
He replied, “Helping to put a man on Moon, Mr. President.”
So, howsoever humble our work maybe, if it transcends the self and is in line with our core values, it is worth living for. It enhances us in every way as it tunes with the Universe.
(Studies at Univ of Michigan. Photo credit Pixabay)