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. But Life on Purpose does more than just provide the latest science; it 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.
“Purpose and meaning are at the heart of healing. If you have time to read only one book on what brings health and happiness this year, this is it.” —Dean Ornish, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of The SpectrumBuy It
Vic's experience of being "broken open" (to take bestselling author Elizabeth Lesser's phrase) set him on a life transforming journey through ancient and modern philosophy, literature, psychology, neuroscience, and Egyptology. Along the way, Vic was introduced to an unlikely role model: a six-legged
superhero whose unique relationship with a ball of excrement forever altered Vic's outlook. A self-help guide, college lecture, confessional, and time-travel adventure all rolled into one, On Purpose uses a beautiful, fantasy-fueled, graphic novel format to tell a story of self-discovery and personal growth that leaves an indelible impression.
At JOOL Health, we always start with the research. It’s the impetus and backbone for all that we do. Understanding, from a scientific point of view, not only what it means to be healthy but, also how to inspire the behavioral shifts that will move people into sustained healthy change is central to the effectiveness of our approach.
The citations below are indicative of the wealth of research taking place that continuously informs and shapes our work.
Boyle PA, Buchman AS, Barnes LL, and Bennett DA. (2010). Effect of a purpose in life on incident Alzheimer Disease and mild cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older persons. Archives of General Psychiatry. 67(3):304-310.
Fredrickson BL, Grewen KM, Coffey KA, Algoe SB, Firestine AM, Arevalo JM, Ma J, Cole SW. (2013). A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 110(33):13684-9.
Hill PL and Turiano NA. (2014). Purpose in life as a predictor of mortality across adulthood. Psychological Science. 25(7):1482-1486.
Jacobs TL, Epel ES, et al. (2011). Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 36:664-681.
Kim ES, Strecher VJ, and Ryff CD. (2014). Purpose in life and use of preventive health care services. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 111(46):16331-16336.
Kim ES, Sun JK, Park JK, Kubzansky LD, and Peterson C. (2012). Purpose in life and reduced risk of myocardial infarction among older U.S. adults with coronary heart disease: A two-year follow-up. Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
Kim ES, Sun JK, Park N, and Peterson C. (2013). Purpose in life and reduced incidence of stroke in older adults: The health and retirement study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 74:427-432.
Martin RA, MacKinnon S, Johnson J, and Rohsenow DJ. (2011). Purpose in life predicts treatment outcome among adult cocaine abusers in treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 40:183-188.
Niemiec CP, Ryan RM, and Deci EL. 2009. The path taken: Consequences of attaining intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations in post-college life. Journal of Research in Personality. 43:291-306.
Prairie BA, Sheier MF, Matthews KA, Chang CCH, and Hess R. (2011). A higher sense of purpose in life is associated with sexual enjoyment in midlife women. Menopause. 18(8):839-844.
Telzer EH, Fuligni AJ, Lieberman MD, and Galvan A. (2014). Neural sensitivity to eudaimonic and hedonic rewards differentially predict adolescent depressive symptoms over time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Wood AM and Joseph S. (2010). The absence of positive psychological (eudemonic) well-being as a risk factor for depression: A ten year cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 122:213-217.
Chen J, Zhou X, Zeng M, and Wu X. (2015). Post-traumatic stress symptoms and post-traumatic growth: Evidence from a longitudinal study following an earthquake disaster. PLoS One. 10(6):e0127241.
Crowell A, Page-Gould E, and Schmeichel BJ (2015). Self-affirmation breaks the link between the behavioral inhibition system and the threat-potentiated startle response. Emotion.
Danhauer SC, et al. (2013). A longitudinal investigation of posttraumatic growth in adult patients undergoing treatment for leukemia. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings. 20(1):13-24.
Duan W and Penfei G. (2015). Association between virtues and posttraumatic growth: Preliminary evidence from a Chinese community sample after earthquakes. PeerJ 3:e883.
Jin Y, Xu J, Liu H, and Liu D. (2014). Posttraumatic stress disorder and posttraumatic growth among adult survivors of Wenchuan earthquake after 1 year: Prevalence and correlates. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. 28:67-73.
Owolabi MO. (2013). Consistent determinants of post-stroke health-related quality of life across diverse cultures: Berlin-Ibadan study. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica. 128(5):311-320.
Schaefer et al. (2013). Purpose in life predicts better emotional recovery from negative stimuli. PLOS ONE. 8(11).
Smith BW et al. (2009). The role of resilience and purpose in life in habituation to heat and cold pain. The Journal of Pain. 10(5):493-500.
Teques AP, Carrera GB, Ribeiro JP, Teques P, and Ramon GL. (2015). The importance of emotional intelligence and meaning in life in psycho-oncology. Psychooncology. Aug 10.
vanLeeuwen CM, Edelaar-Peeters Y, Peter C, Stiggelbout AM, and Post MW. Psychological factors and mental health in persons with spinal cord injury: An exploration of change or stability. 47(6):531-531.
Cornil Y and Chandon P. (2013). From fan to fat? Vicarious losing increases unhealthy eating, but self-affirmation is an effective remedy. Psychological Science 24(10):1936-46.
Crocker J, Niiya Y, Michkowski D. (2008). Why does writing about important values reduce defensiveness? Self-affirmation and the role of positive other-directed feelings. Psychological Science 19(7):740-7.
Falk EB, O’Donnell MB, Cascio CN, Tinney F, Kang Y, Lieberman MD, Taylor SE, An L, Resnicow K, Strecher VJ. (2015). Self-affirmation alters the brain’s response to health messages and subsequent behavior change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 112(7):1977-82.
Dude JL, Williams GC, Ntoumanis N, Daley A, et al. (2014). Effects of a standard provision versus an autonomy supportive exercise referral programmme on physical activity, quality of life and well-being indicators: a cluster randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 11:10.
Kinnunen U, Feldt T, de Bloom J, and Korpela K. (2015). Patterns of daily energy management at work: relations to employee well-being and job characteristics. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.
Nix GA, Ryan RM, Manly JB, and Deci EL. (1999). Revitalization through self- regulation: The effects of autonomous and controlled motivation on happiness and vitality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 35:266-284.
Baumeister RF and Tierney J. (2011). Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. The Penguin Press. New York.
Chang CC and Lin YC. (2015). Physical activity and food consumption: The moderating role of individual dieting tendency. Journal of Health Psychology.