In the past three decades, scientists have found an astonishing connection between our mind and our body. Currently, they conceptualize the two as a single system. Our beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions can change our immune function, cellular memory and gene expression (epigenetics). On the other hand, physical activities like breathing, stretching, and meditating are correlated with our mental and emotional states.
Below you will find four of the well-established and extensively researched fields in mind-body medicine. These are Self-compassion, Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Life Purpose.
Our program aims to make mind-body practices part of your daily life so that you can prosper physically and emotionally.
Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilience, compassion, and understanding within that are simply part of being alive.
Sharon Salzberg, The Force of Kindness
Self-compassion does not mean feeling sorry for yourself and it is not self-pity. It means developing a nurturing relationship with yourself foremost. Similarly, self-compassion is not a sign of weakness. It implies being your own guardian, best friend and healer instead of critic.
Self-compassion is a concept whose popularity has surged in the past decade due to its being a major factor for physical and emotional health. It is defined as “a healthy way of relating to oneself in times of suffering, whether suffering is caused by failure, perceived inadequacy, or general life difficulties.” Considering the high rates of burnout among medical professional and the overall stress levels in that field, we recommend employing the research-based techniques, developed by Dr. Kristin Neff at University of Austin, Texas in combination with the use of self-care products that can enhance their positive effects.
Dr. Neff and her colleagues have provided evidence that high self-compassion is positively linked with well-being in a variety of domains: psychological health, emotional intelligence, self-concept, body image, motivation, interpersonal functioning, and markers of sympathetic nervous system activity after stress. On the other hand, low self-compassion is linked to psychopathology including outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as risk factors for psychopathology such as self-criticism, rumination, and thought suppression.
Compassion for Others as a Fundamental Component of the Medical Profession
Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like. First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore the anguish of a patient, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is. Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain by offering understanding and kindness to them. When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Imagine that you integrate this into the framework of your daily experience at work. Wouldn’t that be the secret to being a great clinician?
How can you do that? By increasing your self-compassion. This involves acting positively towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment? Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings.
The Psychology of Self-Compassion
When we criticize ourselves, just like when we experience stress, we activate the body’s threat-defense system (our reptilian brain). It is automatic and easily triggered. Although this system was adaptive in our evolutionary past when we had to escape physical danger, it is detrimental to our health in the contemporary world where such dangers are rare. Spiked cortisol and adrenaline levels can damage our body and psyche in multiple ways, especially when chronic. For that reason, self-criticism, although often neglected, can be a serious cause for poor health. It puts us in a situation where we are both the attacker and the attacked.
Luckily, we are more than reptiles. We have a mammalian brain too, with a care system designed to allow for a long period of keeping infants safe. When the care system is activated, oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphins (feel-good hormones) are released, which helps reduce stress and increases feelings of safety and security. A soothing touch is one way to activate the care system. Another is through positive self-talk (self-compassion). Compassion (and SC) is linked to the mammalian care system and can trigger it immediately. In addition, self-compassion helps to offset the stress (threat) response. When we experience stress and the threat response is on, we turn on ourselves in a triple negative reaction. We fight ourselves (self-criticism), we flee from others (isolation), or we freeze (rumination).
When we practice self-compassion, we are deactivating the threat-defense system and activating the care system. In one study, for instance, researchers asked participants to imagine receiving compassion and feeling it in their bodies. Every minute they were told things like “Allow yourself to feel that you are the recipient of great compassion; allow yourself to feel the loving-kindness that is there for you.” It was found that the participants given these instructions had lower cortisol levels after the imagery than those in the control group. Participants also demonstrated increased heart-rate variability afterward. The safer people feel, the more open and flexible they can be in response to their environment, and this is reflected in how much their heart rate varies in response to stimuli. So you could say that when they gave themselves compassion, participants' hearts actually opened and became less defensive.
In sum, when we practice SC, we deactivate the stress response and activate the relaxation response through the care system. These dual benefits of stress reduction and improved well-being are appealing to all medical professionals and come with little time commitment and cost.
Compassion Fatigue in the Medical profession
When we care for others who are suffering, the process of empathic resonance means that we feel their distress as our own. When we witness someone else in pain, the pain centers of our own brains become active. Empathic distress can be hard to bear, so it's natural to try to block it out or make it go away as we would any other pain, but the constant struggle can be draining and lead to caregiver fatigue and burnout.
How do we know we've reached the point of burnout? Usually there are signs such as being distracted, angry or irritated, restless, or avoidant of others, having trouble sleeping, or experiencing distressing and intrusive thoughts. Compassion fatigue is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of caring. In fact, the more caregivers are capable of empathic resonance (which is what often draws people into professions), the more vulnerable they may be to caregiver fatigue.
Empathy is an accurate understanding of the patient's world as seen from the side. To sense their private world as if it were your own. If we just resonate with the suffering of others without having the emotional resources to hold it, we will become exhausted and suffer from compassion fatigue. Compassion entails a sense of tenderness and care that embraces the suffering of others rather than struggling with it. Empathy says, “I feel you.” Compassion says, “I hold you.” Compassion is a positive emotion, an energizing emotion. One research study trained people for several days to experience compassion and then showed them a short film depicting others' suffering. The films activated distinctly different brain networks, and only compassion training activated networks associated with positive emotions.
It is crucial that we give ourselves compassion when experiencing empathic pain. As well told whenever we fly, when there is a drop in cabin m pressure, we need to put on our own oxygen mask first, before we help others. Some medical professionals may believe they should only be concerned with the needs of others and are often self-critical because they think they aren't giving enough. However, if you don't meet your own emotional needs by giving yourself compassion, you will become depleted and less able to give.
Importantly, when you calm and soothe your own mind, the person you're caring for will also feel calmed and soothed through her own empathetic resonance. In other words when we cultivate peace within, we help all those we're in contact with achieve the same.
To gauge your self-compassion, answer these questions, based on Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion Scale:
Do you try to be patient and tolerant toward aspects of your personality you don’t like?
When something painful happens, do you try to take a balanced view of the issue?
Do you remind yourself that everybody has flaws and that you are not alone?
Do you give yourself the care you need?
Yes answers indicate that you’re high in self-compassion, and you probably recover quickly from most stresses. Now try these questions:
When you fail at something important to you, do you berate yourself? Do you become consumed by feelings of inadequacy?
Are you judgmental about your flaws?
Do you feel isolated and alone, separate from other people?
If you’ve answered yes to these, it’s a sign that you struggle to feel compassionate toward yourself. Self-compassion is a skill you can develop. And it’s a skill that will help you develop a resilient response to your negative thoughts. When people who are high in self-compassion have a flood of negative thoughts and feelings, they do things differently from the rest of us. They don’t criticize themselves for having faults. They can observe their negative thoughts without getting swept up in them. This means that they don’t have to push away negative feelings; they just let those feelings happen and then fade. This kind attitude has positive effects on their health. People high in self-compassion react to stress with lower levels of stress hormones and they have less anxiety and depression.
Kristin Neff, PhD is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Neff is the most prominent scholar in the field of self-compassion. Her book, Self-Compassion, was published by William Morrow in April, 2011 and is a best-seller on Amazon.
Christopher Germer, PhD is a clinical psychologist and lecturer on psychiatry (part-time) at Harvard Medical School. He is a co-developer of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, co-author of The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, and (forthcoming) Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program and co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy. Dr. Germer is a founding faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy as well as the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. He teaches and leads workshops internationally on mindfulness and compassion, and has a private practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, USA specializing in mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy.
Mindfulness is commonly defined as sustained
non-distraction and an orientation toward one’s
experiences characterized by curiosity, openness,
and acceptance. It is the basic human ability to be
fully present, aware of where we are and what
we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed
by what’s going on around us. While mindfulness is
something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily
available to us when we practice on a daily basis.
Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly
experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind
via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful.
And there’s growing research showing that when you
train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually
remodeling the physical structure of your brain.
The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner
workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.
Watch this inspiring TedX talk by Dr. Richard J. Davidson.
What is meditation?
Meditation is exploring. It’s not a fixed destination. Your head doesn’t become vacuumed free of thought, utterly undistracted. It’s a special place where each and every moment is momentous. When we meditate we venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations (air blowing on our skin or a harsh smell wafting into the room), our emotions (love this, hate that, crave this, loathe that) and thoughts (wouldn’t it be weird to see an elephant playing a trumpet).
Meditation has been extensively researched in the past 40 years and the benefits are enormous — less anxiety, more resilience and empathy, longer sustained focus, and better ability to inhibit habitual responses, among others. In turn, the enhanced ability to inhibit responses leads to longer-term improvements in emotional well-being. Meditators also experience an increased sense of purpose in life. When you have a sense of purpose, you wake up in the morning with a sense of mission, and it’s easier to make decisions and plans. In a study led by neuroscientist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, the people with the strongest sense of purpose in life had a more resilient stress response, less reactivity, and faster recovery from induced stress. (see section on Purpose in Life)
Mindfulness meditation asks us to suspend judgment and unleash our natural curiosity about the workings of the mind, approaching our experience with warmth and kindness, to ourselves and others.
How to practice mindfulness and meditation?
Mindfulness is available to us in every moment,
whether through meditations and body scans, or
mindful moment practices like taking time to
pause and breathe when the phone rings instead
of rushing to answer it.
Mind-body practices such as mindfulness meditation
and mindfulness breathing have been shown in many
studies to enhance health and well-being in multiple
ways. They increase immune cells function, reduce
inflammation as well as bring psychological benefits
such as improved resilience to stress. These effects
are healthy for everyone, but they are especially
important if you have high stress levels. Many types of
meditation also promote the mental skills for
metacognition, changing how we see and respond to
Mind wandering – the opposite of Mindfulness
Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert conducted a study on mind wandering. They found that people tend to mind wander about 50% of the time. “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” the researchers conclude. The more we mind wander, the less happy we are. Especially harmful is negative mind wandering – having unhappy thoughts or wishing to be somewhere else. You can download their “Track Your Happiness” app for IPhone at the app store. Mindfulness exercises train the mind to stay focused on the present moment. It makes it strong, the way workout makes muscles strong, and allows us to control our mind rather than let it control us.
Mind wandering is the antithesis of a mindful state. In the medical field, where high focus and attention to detail are literally life-saving, mind wandering can be dangerous. Researchers have found that because many aspects of a medical professional's work (such as fatigue and depression) maximize the mind's tendency to wander, this experience is likely to be a common occurrence in many medical situations.
Smallwood, Mrazek, and Schooler (2011) conducted a study on mind wandering among medical professionals. Their conclusions were as follows:
“Based on this review, we suggest that because mind wandering interferes with an individual's ability to integrate current events into a more general context, its occurrence may lead to downstream problems in the way that symptoms are interpreted and treated. Finally, because the experience of mind wandering is often both difficult to control and hard to recognize, it is difficult to prevent. We argue that techniques that help individuals to become more mindful have the potential to ameliorate the cost of mind wandering to the medical profession. Given the ubiquitous nature of the experience of mind wandering, the integration of mindfulness training into medical education programs could be of general benefit to society at large.”
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
This technology was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Here is what he says:
“When we let go of wanting something else to happen in this moment, we are taking a profound step towards being able to encounter what is here now. Splitting your attention by multitasking is a low-grade source of noxious stress, even if you are not aware of it.”
Here is a basic exercise that creates thought awareness. It is a form of micro meditation and helps remove anxiety and rumination:
EXERCISE: Close your eyes. Let yourself breathe normally, but pay attention to your breath. When thoughts come into your mind, imagine you are simply a witness to them and watch them gently waft away. Try not to judge the thoughts or yourself for having the thoughts. Bring your attention back to your breath, focusing on the natural feel of it as you breathe in and breathe out.
With practice, the thoughts that are buzzing in your mind will settle down, and you’ll be in a more focused state. Picture your mind like a snow globe. Minds are often in an unsettled state, and the globe is cloudy with thoughts. But taking a mini-meditation break allows the thoughts to eventually settle, allowing you more mental clarity. You won’t be at the mercy of following your thoughts. Of course, it is wonderful if you can practice for a longer time, or to attend a mindfulness retreat to learn this new skill more easily. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Shorter periods of mindfulness will also help you develop thought awareness and reduce the power of your negative thought patterns.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT
What if nothing is really wrong with you, except your thoughts that are insisting otherwise? When we’re feeling sad, we naturally try to think our way out of it. We notice the gap between how we feel and how we want to feel. We start to live in that gap, wishing things could be different, trying hard to find an escape. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT, helps people out of that gap. It combines traditional strategies of cognitive therapy with mindfulness practices. Cognitive therapy helps you change distorted thoughts; mindfulness helps you change how you relate to your thoughts in the first place. MBCT is potent against stress and depression. It’s been shown to be as effective as an antidepressant.
It’s also becoming clear that MBCT helps with anxiety, and it’s useful for any of us who struggle with difficult thoughts and emotions. There are two basic modes of thinking, MBCT teaches.
There is the “doing mode,” which is what we do when we’re trying to get out of the gap between how life is and how we want it to be. But there is another mode, and that is the “being mode.” In the being mode, you can more easily control where you put your attention. Instead of frantically striving to change things, you can choose to do little things that bring you pleasure, and things that help you feel masterful and in control. Because “being” also allows you to pay more attention to people, you can more fully connect with them—a state that typically brings humans the most joy and contentment.
Have you ever experienced the contentment of
focusing all your attention on a small task, such
as cleaning your face? That’s what being mode feels like.
Our program offers a large variety of mindfulness practices.
Dr. Ivanov provides personalized coaching that guides you through
them so that you can get the full range of benefits for your
physical health, emotional wellness, and optimal functioning.
"It is not happiness that brings us gratitude. It is gratitude that brings us happiness."
"Gratitude enables a person to feel good and also to do good."
A 2015 article in the popular journal Scientific American reported that, out of 24 strengths, including such powerhouses as love, hope, kindness, and creativity, the single best predictor of good relationships and emotional well-being was gratitude.
The grateful state of mind, as accessible as it is, can be fleeting, difficult to sustain over the long haul unless practiced with attention and intention. So we need to immerse ourselves in practices and techniques that will foster gratitude every day.
Living gratefully begins with affirming the good and recognizing its sources. It is the understanding that life owes me nothing and all the good I have is a gift, accompanied by an awareness that nothing can be taken for granted.
Robert Emmons, PhD
The Benefits of Cultivating Gratitude
for Stress Relief and Well-Being
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be able to maintain a relatively positive attitude regardless of what’s happening around them? Like everyone, they can appreciate the good times, but they also seem to be able to focus on the positive in the face of some pretty negative events. They see the good in difficult people, they see the opportunity in a challenging situation, and they appreciate what they have, even in the face of loss. Would you like to increase your ability to maintain a positive attitude in your life, even in the face of significant stress?
Fortunately, a positive attitude can be cultivated, with a little practice. Although we are born with specific temperamental tendencies, the brain is a muscle, and you can strengthen your mind’s natural tendency toward optimism if you work at it. And also, fortunately, working on building your "gratitude muscle" can be enjoyable in itself. But the benefits you gain would make it worth the effort even if it was a dull, difficult task.
While several factors go into emotional resilience and optimism, studies show that cultivating a sense of gratitude can help you maintain a more positive mood in daily life and contribute to the greater emotional well-being and bring social benefits as well. Cultivating gratitude is one of the simpler routes to a greater sense of emotional well-being, higher overall life satisfaction, and a greater sense of happiness in life. People with a greater level of gratitude tend to have stronger relationships in that they appreciate their loved ones more, and their loved ones, feeling that appreciation, tend to do more to earn it. And because those who are happier, sleep better, and enjoy healthy relationships tend to be healthier, grateful people tend to be healthier people.
Fortunately, gratitude can be cultivated, and this can be accomplished in several ways. For the next few weeks, try some of the following exercises, and you should notice a significant increase in your feelings of gratitude -— you will likely find yourself noticing more positive things in your life, dwelling less on negative or stressful events and feelings of ‘lack,’ and having a greater sense of appreciation for the people and things in your life.
Studies show that the simple act of smiling can actually change the way you feel, regardless of why you are smiling. Add to this the fact that many people instinctively smile back when they see a genuine smile on someone else’s face, and you gain double the benefits—you feel better yourself, and you are surrounded by a world of smiling, happy people. A smile can ease a difficult social interaction in a matter of seconds, reducing the amount of stress you may feel in an otherwise sticky social situation.
Make Gentle Reminders
When you notice yourself grumbling about a negative event or stressor in your life, try to think of 4 or 5 related things for which you are grateful. For example, when feeling stressed at work, try to think about several things that you like about your job. You can do the same with relationship stress, financial stress, or other daily hassles. The more you gently remind yourself of the positives, the more easily a shift toward gratitude can occur.
Be Careful With Comparisons
Many people cause themselves unnecessary stress by making comparisons. More specifically, they cause themselves stress by making the wrong comparisons. They compare themselves only to those who have more, do more, or are in some way closer to their ideals, and allow themselves to feel inferior instead of inspired. In cultivating gratitude, you have one of two options if you find yourself making such comparisons: You can either choose to compare yourself to people who have less than you (which reminds you how truly rich and lucky you are), or you can feel gratitude for having people in your life who can inspire you. Either road can lead away from stress and envy, and closer to feelings of gratitude. Here are some more strategies for minimizing the stress of social comparison on social media.
Give a Hug And a "Thank You"
Simply expressing gratitude with a quick word or
an embrace can help you to feel more connected
with others, and help them to feel more connected
to you. These quick experiences can translate into
positive feelings on both sides, as well as stronger
relationships and all of the benefits that come with them.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
One of the best ways to cultivate gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Not only are you combining the benefits of journaling with the active adoption of a more positive mindset, you are left with a nice catalog of happy memories and a long list of things in your life for which you are grateful. (This can be wonderful to read during times when it’s more difficult to remember what these things are.)
Because habits are usually formed within two or three weeks, you will have to actively focus on maintaining gratitude less and less as you go, and the habit of a more positive (and less stress-inducing) attitude will be more automatic. And greater feelings of emotional well-being can be yours.
“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.”
Pearl S. Buck
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.
George Bernard Shaw
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
Researchers have found that doing good, or experiencing meaning by serving someone or something outside yourself, is a major component of good health and happiness. Medical professionals fall naturally in that category due to the essence of their work. However, they can easily forget their life purpose when overwhelmed and exposed to chronic stress.
We integrate life purpose exercises into a daily regimen of skin care and massage which allows you to get synergistic positive effects for your physical and emotional well-being. This unique combination of methods will reinforce your sense of purpose while helping you to incorporate daily self-care as an essential component of a meaningful life.
Medicine is the noblest occupation. Saving lives, providing care and support to those in need should make every medical professional (Doctor, Nurse Practitioner, PA, Nurse, etc.) proud and highly motivated. He or she should go to work every day full of energy and optimism. However, the busy and often overloaded schedule of medical professionals can leave them exhausted, burnout and even disenchanted with their work. In such cases one tends to forget their life purpose, even when it’s as noble as medicine. The focus shifts to busyness, getting the job done, and this frequently leads to a decline in physical and emotional health, including symptoms such as fatigue, depression, insomnia, and social isolation. When lost in the the hamster wheel, we lose sight of the obvious, that the purpose of your life is not to be as busy as possible. Indeed, one of the biggest blocks to living your purpose is chronic busyness.
Purpose in life has been researched extensively in the past three decades and it is linked to longevity, happiness, mental and physical health. It is our goal here to present these findings and help doctors, nurse practitioners, and nurses to rekindle the fire of their motivation by strengthening their sense of purpose.
In particular, stronger feelings of life purpose are related to reduced risk of stroke and improved functioning of immune cells. Life purpose even helps for less belly fat and higher insulin sensitivity. In addition, it inspires us to take better care of ourselves. People with greater purpose tend to get more lifesaving tests to detect early disease (such as prostate exams and mammograms), and when they do get sick, they stay in the hospital fewer days.
The writer Leo Rosten said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy—but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.” But it doesn’t have to be a competition between being happy and being productive with purpose—they come together. Life purpose is what brings us eudaemonic happiness, the healthy feeling that we are involved in something bigger than ourselves. Eudaemonic happiness is not the transitory happiness we experience when eating or buying something we really want; it is enduring wellbeing. A strong sense of our values and purpose can serve as a bedrock foundation that helps us feel stability through life events, those earthquakes both minor and major. In hard times, we can bring them to mind over and over again. They may even protect us from threat stress at an unconscious automatic level.
Kashdan and McKnight’s model of Life Purpose
George Mason University researchers Todd Kashdan and Patrick McKnight have published numerous articles in peer reviewed journals. They have found that:
1. Given a purpose, people become more attuned to their intrinsic values, interests, and strivings to accomplish relevant goals (Aristotle’s eudaimonia).
2. A purpose in life stimulates behavioral consistency; serving as the motivating force to overcome obstacles, seek alternative means, and maintain focus on the goal in spite of changes to the environment that may interfere with the pursuit.
3. Purpose offers a testable, causal system that synthesizes outcomes including life expectancy, satisfaction, and mental and physical health. These outcomes may be explained best by considering the motivation of the individual—a motivation that comes from having a purpose.
From McKnight, P.E., & Kashdan, T.B. (2009). Purpose in life as a system that creates and sustains health and well-being: An integrative, testable theory. Review of General Psychology, 13, 242-251.
Todd Kashdan, PhD is a world recognized authority on well-being, stress, and anxiety, He has published over 175 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is the author of several best-selling books. Dr. Kashdan is Professor of Psychology and Senior Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University.
Patrick McKnight, PhD is an Associate Professor at George Mason University.
A Second Perspective, Lissa Rankin, MD
Another, more personal, perspective on life purpose was developed by Lissa Rankin, M.D., a physician whose research led her to discover that our bodies have natural self-repair mechanisms that can be activated or disabled based on thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that originate in the mind.
Dr. Rankin is the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine, The Fear Cure, and The Anatomy of a Calling. She is the founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute. Her scientific data shows that loneliness, pessimism, depression, fear, and anxiety damage the body, while gratitude, meditation, and life purpose activate the body’s self-healing processes.
Dr. Robert Holden – A Third Perspective
Since 1992, Dr. Robert Holden has been the director of The Happiness Project—a project that explores the psychology, sociology and spirituality of happiness. Since 1996, he has been the director of Success Intelligence, a project that explores the heart and soul of authentic success. Central to this work, is the exploration of life purpose.
Dr. Holden has developed a series of life purpose exercises that happened to be so successful, they have brought him international fame and respect. He is endorsed by Oprah and other social influencers and often speaks on TED.
Here is a quote that describes the basic values of his model:
Your purpose is bigger than your ego. All too often, the ego—the voice in your head that believes you are separate from everyone else—wants you to find your purpose so you will feel special, unique, superior and less neurotic than others. However, to discover your purpose, you have to be willing to connect to something bigger than your ego (your "mini me", to quote Austin Powers). Connection is the key to inspiration.
It is the spiritual imperative of every human to overcome his or her perceived sense of aloneness. This is the key to big, real, meaningful, juicy success. Your purpose is to heal the illusion of separation and realize your oneness with creation. Why is this important? Because your purpose is not just about you; it involves your family, your friends and ultimately all of humanity. Knowing this helps you to open yourself up to inspiration and help from other people, from the divine, from nature and from life itself.
The purpose of your life is to discover who you are. It is to meet yourself and to identify what you are made of and what you are made for. To do this, you have to be willing to give yourself some special attention. You have to stop "going" "doing" and "chasing" and start spending more time "being" with yourself. You have to connect consciously with what I call your unconditioned self, the original essence of who you are. Your unconditioned self wants you to know yourself. It wants you to know who you really are.