WWB Passioneer Library: Q&A With Author of: Life On Purpose–How Living For What Matters Most Changes Everything

Aug 26, 2016 by

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The World Wise Beauty ‘Passioneer Series’

Excited to welcome back  one of my favorite experts, Dr. Vic Strecher.  He came to visit World Wise Beauty in 2015 to talk about his book ‘On Purpose’, which is a graphic novel telling a beautiful, fantasy-fueled, story of self-discovery and personal growth. His new book while not a graphic novel, covers the important topics of ‘purpose and meaning’ in more depth, and shows us how ‘purpose’ not only leads to self-fulfillment but to a better society. Not only is Dr. Stecher a professor and author, but he is also an inspiring entrepreneur who has taken his passion for health and well-being, and created new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. See his very impressive bio below and join me for a stimulating Q&A about his new book Life on Purpose, How Living For What Matters Most, Changes Everything.

Vic Strecher PhD MPH is a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. For over two decades Vic Strecher has been a leader and visionary in the fields of health and well-being, creating new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. 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 JOOL Health Inc. as a major paradigm shift in how individuals engage in the pursuit of well-being while offering organizations a more insightful means to support positive, healthy change. 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. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife Jeri.

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Dr. Vic Strecher

 

 

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Lauroly Q-Welcome back Vic! Let’s dig in. Just recently I had a conversation with someone who was feeling very depressed about the world in general. She was feeling disillusioned with not only politics but humanity in general. Giving her time and energy to many causes, she felt like giving up. Rather than lecture people, I always have a book up my sleeve to recommend. Guess what it was Vic? It was ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. That was a book I never forgot reading as a psychology major in college and always reminds me of mankind’s greatest gift which is the ability to choose and select our own meaning. You mention his work a lot and of course it makes sense because your passion is purpose. I love how you took your passion for philosophy and extracted amazing wisdom for us to think about.  I hope more people discover ‘works of philosophy’ who never studied it in college, through your book. Why do you think going back to the great philosophers is so important when it comes to finding our purpose? You admit in the book, that you didn’t have much interest in it as a young man.

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: True, I never felt an affinity with ancient philosophers until I needed them. Then, it felt like they were writing personal letters to me. If you want to read something thoroughly modern and useful, you might start with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, or better yet, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Then read a few of Seneca’s letters and essays. See if you don’t get hooked on these 2,000 year old philosophers as well! These writings were amazing for two reasons: (1) they were written by people who grew up in such different circumstances, yet had such relevant things to say about my own modern life, and (2) they push you to more carefully consider your existence, to not just run on automatic.

Lauroly Q-Thank you for sharing your great book recommendations. I love adding to my wisdom reading list! While you take us on this wonderful tour of philosophy, you also balance things with real world stories and examples of inspiring people finding their purpose. The most important one I feel is your own story. In sharing your touching and personal story, it makes me feel that you have truly connected the dots. Your wisdom was gained not just by research or study but by ‘getting through’ your own challenges and pain, and coming out of it with your own passionate purpose. My favorite quote is from Robert Frost “The Best Way Out is Always Through’. Can you share how you got through losing your nineteen year old daughter to life-long illness?

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: A few months after my daughter died I finally realized that, if I was going to survive, I’d need to think differently. It’s hard to think differently (at least for me) but two books really helped me: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open. These two books shoved me into a rabbit hole of new words and ideas. Words like, “ego,” “transcendence,” and “purpose.” But being a skeptical scientist, I’m always wondering whether these words and ideas have actually been tested. I was happily surprised to find that these ancient concepts have recently been studied by really good researchers. Over time, they’ve become subjects of my own research.

Lauroly Q- You discuss ‘personal agency’ in Chapter 2, and it’s a very important aspect of ‘finding and living your purpose’. Yet essentially the takeaway in your book is, we are all ultimately fulfilled from being ‘other focused’. I believe that’s why Viktor Frankl’s ideas and creation of ‘logo therapy’ is so profound. In this world, there are a lot of people worldwide experiencing strife and they don’t seem to have a sense of ‘personal agency’. They may find it quite difficult to find their purpose in a way that many self-help practitioners might suggest. Do you think like Maslow suggests, that we must first get past survival modes before we can be altruistic? I can answer my own question when I think of Jesus, Buddha, and Mother Teresa. It’s a great topic to explore with you, because there are many stories and examples of transcendence in your book I loved. Feel free to pick one…

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: I’m particularly drawn to the story of James Arinaitwe, who, as a boy in Uganda, lost his mother and father to AIDS by the time he was ten. He and his mother walked over 300 miles to the residential home of the President of Uganda to ask for an education. He’s now the co-founder and director of Teach for Uganda. He laughed when I suggested what many Westerners believe — that purpose is only a higher-order need. He said that “Families that break down are the ones who have no purpose or vision for the family. Purpose goes hand in hand with hope. In the West, people may not relate to this, but this is how we think. Purpose sustains poor people.”

 

Lauroly Q- I loved that story in your book. While purpose is your focus you really make the connection that wellness is key to our personal development. There are 5 wellness practices and rituals you explore in your book. Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity and Eating. How did creativity get on your top 5 list? I might add you really expand on the meaning and expression of creativity in your book.

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: Thank you for noticing! Creativity is one of my favorite subjects. It’s consistently ignored or at least de-emphasized in our schools and in our society as a whole, yet creativity is what will ultimately be needed to maintain our competitive edge in the world. I spent quite a bit of time understanding the way people conceptualize creativity. My favorite view is put forth by the psychologist Rollo May — that creativity requires courage — the courage to say that the status quo isn’t good enough and that there’s a better way. By the way, in our research, creativity and presence are the two leading predictors of energy and willpower, exceeding the impact of more traditional behaviors such as physical activity, eating behavior, or sleep.

Lauroly Closing: I could go on forever chatting with you about the ideas in your book, but this is a blog and most people will be better served reading your fantastic book for themselves. So this is my gift to the person I was recently talking to about hope and purpose. Your book is one I will no doubt recommend to anyone struggling with meaning, purpose and direction. Thank you for writing it Vic, and keep them coming. Your gift for communicating and emotionally connecting has so much to offer, especially in wellness culture.

Dr. Vic Strecher Closing: Thank you, Laura. I’ve so enjoyed your blog and your perspective and greatly appreciate your interest in this work!

 

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WWB Passioneer: Meet Dr. Tim Lomas Who Created a ‘Positive Lexicography’ Because Happiness Speaks Many Languages…

Jun 15, 2016 by

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Dr. Tim Lomas Positive Psychology

Dr. Tim Lomas
Positive Psychology

Tim Lomas, Ph.D., is a lecturer in positive psychology at the University of East London, where he is also the co-program leader for the Masters of Science in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology. He is the author of numerous papers and books related to positive psychology, gender, mindfulness, and Buddhism. His latest book,The Darkness and the Dawn: The Value of Sadness and other Negative Emotions will be published by Piatkus in Fall 2016.

Recently launched the Positive Lexicography Project, an online glossary of untranslatable words that describe positive traits, feelings, experiences, and states of being that had no direct counterparts in English.

You can search the glossary by alphabet or by language.  See below for examples…

 

Lauroly Welcome-  Welcome Tim. I discovered your work from an article in the New Yorker and I just had to reach out and share your inspiring global project. Let’s start with the basics for our readers. Why do you think having a catalog of foreign terms that represent concepts of joy and wellness will help us reshape our own sense of well-being? Can we process experiences differently and can we escape our own culture’s conditioning?

Tim Lomas: Thanks Lauroly! I’m so pleased that you like the project! Yes, I do believe that learning new positive words has the potential to alter our experiences for the better. We only tend to really take note of phenomena that have been flagged up in our attention by being named in a word. Of course, we can perceive and feel things for which we don’t have a name. However, our senses are continually registering so much information that we have to filter it somehow, to prioritise certain aspects; and the way our brain does that is partly through language. And so, whatever words we happen to have acquired to delineate and represent the world will influence the types of feelings we can enjoy. If we lack a word for a particular positive emotion, we’re far less likely to experience it; and even if we do, we’ll be unable to perceive it with much clarity, think about it with much understanding, talk about it with much insight, or remember it with much vividness. As such, I do think that, whenever we learn a new word, it can draw our attention to new aspects of life, or at least bring new clarity and awareness to feelings we may only be vaguely experiencing.

 

                          BALINESE Ramé (n.): something at once chaotic and joyful.

 

Lauroly Q- The Positive Psychology movement is a great influence on wellness culture, but isn’t happiness, or our pursuit of it, experienced and manifested based on the culture we live in? Which countries around the world are actively embracing positive psychology besides the U.S ?

Tim Lomas: Yes, positive psychology has had such a huge impact since it emerged nearly 20 years ago. However, I think you’re right in suggesting that it’s been influenced by the cultural context in which it first emerged (mainly North America). As such, to some extent, its concepts relating to happiness have perhaps been shaped by ideas relating to happiness that are prominent in ‘the West’ (such as the importance of self-determination and individual freedom). That said, the field is evolving and developing as researchers from around the world are joining the field, and in doing so are bringing in insights and concepts that are prominent in their own cultures. For instance, there has been much interest in positive psychology from countries such as China and India, who have established journals and conferences relating to positive psychology.

 

DANISH: Hygge (n) : a deep sense of of place, warmth, friendship and contentment

 

Lauroly Q- I can see how language affects our mindsets for sure. For example the words ‘stressed out’ had to be created here in America and is probably best understood by our people. Yet we have come up with  new terms such as ‘Chillax’, that captures a sense of rest and relaxation. America is a melting pot of ethnic cultures, but how do homogeneous cultures embrace other languages to describe their feelings? When I was researching trends in wellness culture for the spa sector, there was a trend called ‘Cultural-Cocktailing’ which described people’s interest and willingness to blend wellness practices from other cultures with their own. Do you think now that we are more mobile in this world, we can do this with language and emotional states?

Tim Lomas: Yes, I would definitely agree – in this era of globalisation there is such dynamic inter-transmission of ideas and practices. Many people in more affluent countries are able to travel abroad extensively, and learn new things from the places they visit, and even people that cannot travel much can find out about other cultures through the internet. Moreover, at a cultural level there is a really interesting ‘cross-fertilization’ of ideas, from ‘Western’ ideas and cultural products been consumed in Non-Western countries, to Non-Western practices such as mindfulness and yoga becoming embraced and adapted in the West. The term ‘cultural-cocktailing is an interesting one. There is a similar concept in the sociology of religion of a ‘spiritual supermarket’; however, while many sociologists seem to use the term somewhat disparagingly, I feel it can actually be a positive and liberating phenomenon (e.g., people in the West finding an affinity and connection with non-Western traditions such as Buddhism).

 

GREEK: Kefi (n.): joy, passion, enthusiasm, high spirits, frenzy.

 

Lauroly Q- Charlemagne the King of Franks who united Western Europe during the Middle Ages, proclaimed “to have have a second language is to have a second soul.” Connecting with this idea, I should mention WWB’s book club is reading ‘In Other Words’ by Jhumpa Lahiri. It is an autobiographical account of her love for the Italian language and her desire to write an entire book in Italian, which was a third language for her after Indian and English. She explores identity outside of geographic frontiers and linguistic boundaries, which I found really interesting. Do you think if we learn new languages, we inadvertently change the way we view the world and each other?

Tim Lomas: Yes, I do think that’s the case. I feel that encountering new cultural ideas in general, and learning new words/concepts in particular, does have the power to change how we see the world. For instance, when I was 19, I went to teach English in China. The whole trip was incredible, really eye-opening and character-shaping, and I really loved it there. I tried to learn some of the language, and in doing so I encountered some concepts (mainly relating to Buddhism) that were completely new to me, and which did alter how I see things.

 

 SPANISH: Simpatía (n.): accord and harmony within relationships and/or society.

 

Lauroly Closing: Thank you so much for sharing your research and your wisdom with us Tim. I think there is so much potential for your research project and you are certainly sharing one big cultural cocktail with us! Looking forward to seeing where the Positive Lexicography project takes you! I enjoyed reading your language list and the comments from people around the world are very insightful. I encourage our readers to check it out and discover a whole world of language and psychology that may expand your emotional vocabulary and broaden your experience for living well.

Tim Lomas: Thank you so much for inviting me to answer your questions. I’m so pleased that you like the project! I would also add that I see this as very much a work-in-progress, and also hopefully a collaborative one. So far, I’ve really just attempted to track down words that might be relevant, and to offer a rudimentary definition of these. However, I’m very aware that there are likely to be many other interesting words that deserve to be on the list, and also that the definitions I have for the words could be developed and enriched. So, I hope that people might be able to make suggestions for how to improve the list!

 

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Travel to Italy and Explore Self Reinvention: World Wise Beauty Selects ‘In Other Words’ by Jhumpa Lahiri as Spring Book Wise Pick

Apr 8, 2016 by

 

 

 

BOOK WISE SPRING PICK: In Other Words

GENRE: Non-Fiction/Autobiography/Dual Language(English-Italian) Format

CULTURE SPOTLIGHT: Italy

AUTHOR: Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of four works of fiction: Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth, and The Lowland.She has received numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Premio Gregor von Rezzori, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, a 2014 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, and the Premio Internazionale Viareggio-Versilia, for In altre parole.

OF NOTE: One of her books ‘Namesake’ was adapted into a movie. Learn more here…

Book Wise Pow-Wow: What would you express in another language? What language would that be? Whether you are an immigrant or not, at the center of this beautiful memoir is perhaps a universal experience that many of us can relate to.  Our self-hood and search for identity is a life-long process of becoming comfortable in our own skin, and we all can feel at one time or another like we don’t quite fit in. ‘In Other Words’ is a story about a love and a pure passion for another language and culture. Where do you feel most comfortable to be yourself? Would you find your true self in another country? Or would you be running from yourself?  This deeply introspective writer invites us to reflect and explore identity through her personal journey…

 

 

 

 

PUBLISHER BOOK OVERVIEW:

In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story—of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.

Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.

 

See the highlighted quote leading this post for translation…

Presented in a dual-language format, this is a wholly original book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WWB’s Monday Morning Pow-Wow Wisdom: Quality of Life Matters…

Jan 25, 2016 by

 

The Pow-Wow today is a tricky one and especially for the passioneers of the world. We are told when we are young, practice makes perfect and indeed it almost always does. But talk to any serious athlete or musician who pursued their passion fervently, and they will tell you that their passion was their life in exclusion to everything else. Ancient wisdom says ‘energy flows where attention goes’ and this seems to ring true as well.  This is such a big topic and one I hope we explore more of here at the Passioneer department of World Wise Beauty. I think this quote can have more than one meaning for many of us. We all want to be successful, we all want to perform well and we all want to enjoy life.  How we achieve this is our individual personal journey. Can you only be successful or a true passioneer if you work 24/7 and give up your life? Again the answer is complex…

 

“JUST TRUST YOURSELF AND YOU WILL KNOW HOW TO LIVE”~Goethe

What is work? What is a career?  What is play? What is passion? The answer to these questions are different for each of us. Indeed excellence comes from discipline, focus and commitment. But then we also have to explore the idea of talent, skill set and strengths. Talent comes naturally, skill sets can be developed realistically and strengths seem to be a combination of innate natural ability, practice, and experience. When you bring all three to the table along with passion, this is where the magic is. The strengths I mentioned are important and usually surface when we also know our weakness. So the wise ones focus on and develop their strengths, and this is usually doing more of what you love with PASSION! The secret sauce right there! I may be good at doing dishes but that doesn’t mean I want to be doing dishes for life! I kid, but take that concept and apply it to almost anything.

“THE FIRST WEALTH IS HEALTH” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I would venture to say, that true passioneers aren’t thinking about success and excellence in any literal form, they are just following their passion and are lucky to have discovered their core strengths. For some of us this becomes a vocation, for others it is a career, and for many of us it can be our hobby. So what does quality of life have to do with all of this?  It seems to me that without health and well-being your passion or your career can’t fully actualize, or can be suddenly cut-short if you become ill.  At World Wise Beauty, we believe health and wellness is the foundation for achieving quality of life. You can only have wellness when you know yourself–mind, body and spirit. Once you have that sacred relationship with yourself, you will then know what it takes to care for yourself and live. Some people can function on 5 hours of sleep but most of us require 7-8 hours of sleep. You get the idea. What matters is that you know what you need for yourself.

‘ALWAYS KNOW YOUR WHY’ ~ Ancient Wisdom

‘Always know your why’ is great wisdom because chasing success and excellence without consideration of what it means to your overall well-being is a recipe for disillusionment and illness.  On a larger scale in terms of our earth it is even scarier. Success over sustainability equals climate change. We are not loving that– are we?

The big topics of love, family and friendship is not covered here but I know for many women reading this, it is a huge consideration. Because all these things mean connection and we do know through research that connection is crucial for maintaining wellness.  What do we sacrifice or compromise for success and following our passion? My hunch is ‘passioneers’ are the closest to living life fully because they are doing what they love and they have identified their strengths and what they are passionate about. So when Yo-Yo ma, Michael Jordan or Oprah Winfrey say ‘you can do this too”, maybe you think about the many components that factored into their success but also the passion that aligned with their skills. Am I saying don’t try something that you are not naturally talented at? Not at all. What I am saying is take time to identify your strengths and also your passion. It doesn’t matter which one comes first, what matters is they co-exist with each other. One without the other is going to be a ‘slog’ as my British friends say. 😉

P.S Slog Definition: A lot of hard work over a long period of time! Quality of life? I think not!

Add these two great books to your WWB Passioneer Library. I share one old and one new but both passionate experts will inspire you to follow your passion, most importantly on your own terms.

1- The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte

2- Finding Your North Star by Martha Beck

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Introducing WWB’s Passioneer Library–Fuel Up With Books to ‘Feed Your Passion’

Nov 10, 2015 by

 

 

Find your passion, explore your passion, live your passion. This is what WWB’s Passioneer department is all about! I am so excited to present this new monthly column ‘Passioneer Library’ because I get to fulfill my passion, which is to share knowledge and wisdom I have found in wonderful books! I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t recommend a book, share a book or quote a book when I wanted to encourage someone to explore and learn. Equally and magically books always seem to find me exactly when I need wisdom or inspiration. Does that happen to you?

Well if it hasn’t happened, I hope the Passioneer Library becomes your ‘go to place’ for books that will ‘feed your passion’. Passion often leads to your purpose, and your purpose is often your calling. But keep in mind, your passion doesn’t have to be your job. There are all kinds of ways to tap into your passions, and the idea is to bring them to life, and enjoy them to the fullest. This month we focus on ‘creativity’ and I present two fantastic books that are sure to get your creative juices flowing. I myself can’t wait to read the first book featured because it was just released. Let’s read it together! The second book is an older book I have read and it is a must have for the Passioneer’s library. I often recommend the author’s other National bestseller  ‘Flow’  (which is a classic now around the world) to people who are interested in the creative process.  Happy reading and exploring…

P.S In addition to this monthly column, I also interview high-profile authors, experts and visionaries who are Passioneers and will inspire you to pursue your passions in life. I invite you to take a look at some of the wonderful people I have featured here at WWB who are out there living their passion, and also making the world a better place. I promise it will make you feel rainbows up and down your spine! How is that for a visual?!

 

 

 

 

 

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

 

 

The classic study of the creative process from the national bestselling author of Flow creativity is about capturing those moments that make life worth living. Legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi reveals what leads to these moments—be it the excitement of the artist at the easel or the scientist in the lab—so that this knowledge can be used to enrich people’s lives. Drawing on nearly one hundred interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists, to politicians and business leaders, to poets and artists, as well as his thirty years of research on the subject, Csikszentmihalyi uses his famous flow theory to explore the creative process. He discusses such ideas as why creative individuals are often seen as selfish and arrogant, and why the “tortured genius” is largely a myth. Most important, he explains why creativity needs to be cultivated and is necessary for the future of our country, if not the world.

 

 

 

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