Victor lost his nineteen-year-old daughter, Julia, to a rare heart disease that resulted from an infant case of chicken pox. This life event challenged every aspect of Strecher’s personal and professional experience and drove him to an exhaustive search, from ancient philosophy to cutting-edge science, to pinpoint the potential and impact of purpose in our lives. What is it? How can we discover it? And what does the latest research tell us about the importance of how purpose affects our overall health and happiness?
A noted researcher and successful entrepreneur, Vic has cultivated a passion for connecting academic research to practical applications. In 1998, Vic created Health Media pioneering Web-based “digital health coaching.” The company set a new benchmark for scalable, lifestyle and condition management program delivery. Health Media was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2008.
In late 2014, Vic founded Kumanu (formerly JOOL Health), a digital health solution company integrating the science of purpose, advanced mobile technology, and big data analytics to help employers, health plans, and health systems improve their populations’ health engagement and overall well-being through sustainable behavior change. JOOL Health fosters the understanding that a thriving workforce is composed of individuals encouraged to be their best selves—both professionally and personally—by a supportive organizational culture. JOOL synthesizes breakthrough science on the impact of purpose with advanced technology and data science to provide organizations with the tools necessary to create, support, and maintain an inspired workforce that is high performing in all areas of life. Vic and his work have recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, WIRED, the Chicago Tribute, and at TEDMED and TEDX events.
Vic Strecher is the author of Life on Purpose - How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything.
- From Pandemic and Racial Inequities to Purpose
A behavioral scientist, who studies the power of living with purpose, discusses how to heal and grow in 2021. Hope is also on the horizon for a more peaceful political environment, and important work is being done to address the social and racial inequities that plague our country. While challenges remain, and a great deal of work lies ahead, all of this positive movement should spark optimism and energy in you for the new year, right? At long last, you can begin to brush off the dust from 2020 and move on! If only it were that easy.
The events of this year have left their mark, with some more deep than others. The loss of loved ones, social connections, life routines and holiday traditions has cut deep. And, although a brighter future is on its way, it may take some time to get here. The pain and trauma endured this year could be hard to shake, but Victor Strecher, Ph.D., professor in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and University of Michigan Medical School, and renowned author and speaker, believes you can move forward, heal and even thrive by finding — or rediscovering — purpose in your life. His own life experience and decades of research tell him this is true.
- How Finding Purpose Can Help You to Overcome Challenging Times
“Can we grow from stress? The answer is clear: absolutely.”
1. “I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I was.”
2. “I changed my priorities about what is important in life.”
3. “I established a new path for my life.”
These three statements are part of a larger scale measuring Posttraumatic Growth. The media loves to talk about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but can we grow from stress? The answer is clear: absolutely. Research studies have demonstrated posttraumatic growth after earthquakes, tsunamis, war, cancer, and loss of loved ones. We can also grow from our experience with COVID-19.
Research has demonstrated that people with self-transcending purpose produce more antibodies, mount stronger antiviral responses, and are shielded from toxic biological effects of social isolation (all of which would come in handy right now). Strength of purpose, produced through regular compassion toward others — even those we don’t like — has been shown to reduce inflammation, which fuels heart attacks and cancer, and increase telomerase, which grows the chromosomal “caps” that keep our DNA (and us) healthy.
One thing we know about COVID-19 is that people are differentially susceptible to its effects. We don’t know whether having a self-transcending purpose can buffer the effects of COVID-19, but it probably doesn’t hurt to try. You may live longer, and you will certainly live better. Today, many of us feel helpless, just waiting to get sick (or fired, or both). We didn’t choose this, but it hit us anyway. But that doesn’t mean we have no choice about how to go forward. Stop and think about a time in your life when you experienced the greatest amount of personal growth? Was it when you were on the beach drinking martinis? Or was it from a period of great challenge? Consider using the challenge of COVID-19 to build strength and self-transcending purpose. Let’s grow from this experience.
- On Purpose: Lessons in Life and Health from the Frog, the Dung Beetle, and Julia
- Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything
Imagine a drug that was proven to add years to your life, reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, cut your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by more than half, help you relax during the day and sleep better at night, double your chances of staying drug and alcohol-free after treatment, activate your natural killer cells, diminish your inflammatory cells, increase your good cholesterol, and repair your chromosomes. What if this imaginary drug reduced hospital stays so much that it put a dent in the national health care crisis? The pharmaceutical company who made the drug would be worth billions. The inventors of the drug would receive Nobel Prizes and have institutes named for them. But it’s not a drug. It’s purpose. And it’s free.
Victor Strecher, an award-winning pioneer in the field of behavioral science and professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, lost his nineteen-year-old daughter, Julia, to a rare heart disease that resulted from an infant case of chicken pox. This life event challenged every aspect of Strecher’s personal and professional experience and drove him to an exhaustive search, from ancient philosophy to cutting-edge science, to pinpoint the potential and impact of purpose in our lives. What is it? How can we discover it? And what does the latest research tell us about the importance of how purpose affects our overall health and happiness?
The results of this groundbreaking investigation are revelatory and the crux of this engaging book, Life on Purpose. But Vic Strecher does more than just provide the latest science; he offers a step-by-step program for improving energy, willpower, health, and long-term happiness. Strecher’s smart, personal, and highly practical book will fundamentally change the way we understand what it means to lead a good life.
-Magellan Health, Inc.