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The Power of Purpose

Older Americans show how a mission transforms us

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'The Hidden Power of Purpose' profiles the stories of (clockwise, top left) Karen Cassidy, Wintley Phipps, Shirley Acevedo Buontempo and Mark Barden.

It’s been said that the two most ​important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.​ Finding our purpose is what guides us and gives our life meaning.

In a soon-to-be-released AARP documentary, The Hidden Power of Purpose, viewers will hear from some of the ­nation’s leading behavioral scientists about the benefits of finding a purpose in life — that those who do can live longer, healthier and happier lives. When you are living a life of purpose, neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta says in the film, “you are signaling to your body to make sure that your immune system is functioning [at] its best.”

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Renowned author and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra adds that ​technology is now able to​ back the belief that “mind and body are inseparable aspects ​of our existence.”​​​

The documentary focuses on the stories of four Americans over age 50 who have overcome tremendous life challenges to pursue their passion for service. During October, the documentary will have its world premiere at the Heartland International Film Festival, followed by screenings at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival and Downtown L.A. Film Festival.

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Illustration by Michael Hoeweler

For the past seven years, AARP has been celebrating the unique contributions of adults 50 and older who have found their purpose and are pursuing their passion to make a difference in the world. This month, we will announce this year’s AARP Purpose Prize winners. And in the October/November issue of AARP The Magazine, you will get to meet this extraordinary group of people who are using their knowledge and life experience to solve some of the most challenging social problems of our time.

The AARP Purpose Prize celebrates older people who use their life experience to create social change. This prestigious annual award illuminates a new vision of aging by honoring extraordinary individuals who are fulfilling their life’s purpose through service to others.

This year’s Purpose Prize honorees, each of whom founded a nonprofit, were chosen because of the impact of their work, their innovative approaches to helping others and the power of their personal stories.

Each AARP Purpose Prize winner will receive a $50,000 award for his or her organization. And 10 fellows will receive $10,000 for their organizations. Winners and fellows also receive a year of technical support for their organizations.

AARP will recognize one of the winners with the AARP Inspire Award. The public can vote on which of the five winners inspires them the most. The Inspire Award winner’s organization will receive an ­additional $10,000.

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During these trying times, we are honored to recognize the extra­ordinary work of these age 50-plus Americans.

Our Purpose Prize winners and fellows are shining examples of a simple yet profound truth: When we find our purpose — that reason to get up and get going every day — we give meaning to our own lives and also make the world a better place for ­everyone.

AARP is proud to celebrate the power of purpose in the lives of older people. It’s just part of our mission to reframe how society looks at aging and give all Americans the freedom to choose how they live as they age.

The Hidden Power of​ Purpose will premiere ­Oct. 8 at the Heartland ­International Film Festival in Indianapolis. To learn more, visit

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