067 – Life on Purpose with Victor Strecher, PhD
Have you ever asked yourself, “What’s my purpose in life? Why am I here? Is this all there is?”
Every summer, for at least the past ten years, I take my son Parker for a father-son-trip to Seattle, Washington to visit good Ol’ Uncle Pat. It’s sort of a tradition we call the “The Seattle Download.” Because it’s our chance to pour every bit of advice, wisdom, fight and adventure story, bad mistake and lesson learned, we’ve got into him.
He’s ours for a week and we don’t hold anything back from the minute Uncle Pat picks us up at the airport in his black BMW 750i until he drops us off a week later. We’ve got a routine, in the mornings we pour ourselves some Storyville coffee, which is a supercool coffee company near Pat’s house on Bainbridge, Island. Then we fill up the bird feeders and sprinkle some critter food on the railing of Uncle Pat’s back deck overlooking Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline, which is the signal for every bird, chipmunk and squirrel on the Island to come in for breakfast.
So we’re sitting sipping coffee, listening to the gentle sounds of nature, watching the yellow finches and the cute little red squirrels nibble away at sunflower seeds.
We’re just breathing in that crisp, cool, Pacific Northwest air, listening to the birds or some 70’s soft rock, mesmerized by the ever changing view of sail boats, cruise ships and freighters just silently gliding in and out of the harbor, and we download everything we’ve got, over 100 years of combined life experience, into Parker’s brain.
We try to get Parker to project himself in the future, 5 or 10 years, and to sort of try on a day-in-the-life of his future self. Kind of like Neo and Morpheus in the Construct. We start with a blank slate and fill in all the details. And not just the material stuff, we really try to get him reflect on things like personal values, purpose and his overall path in life. Today’s guest is a living example of living life on purpose. He even wrote a book on it.
On this episode of the Hollow Tube, we bring you the legendary, Dr. Victor J. Strecher.
Dr. Strecher is a decorated professor at the University of Michigan. He’s a successful entrepreneur, and author of the outstanding book, “Life on Purpose- How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything.” He’ll tell us about the sentinel event that nearly broke him and the amazing circumstances that put him back on his path– of purpose.
Dr. Strecher’s going to tell us what purpose is, why it’s important to have a purpose and how we can find our purpose. And he’ll back it all up with latest research that proves why having a purpose is good for us. After listening to Dr. Strecher, Pat and I both agreed that this was one of the most important and potentially life changing conversations we’ve ever had. And now ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to The Hollow Tube, Dr. Victor Strecher.
Topics Discussed Today
[10:53] Dr. Strecher doesn’t have a lot of time for being on podcasts, but he appreciated how Michael and Pat understood his book.
[12:27] Michael and Dr. Strecher both had points in their lives where they lost their way.
[15:59] Neurocognitive behavioral scientists are proving what the ancient philosophers imagined back then.
[17:14] People who have a better purpose than themselves tend to survive longer. When people lose purpose they get sick and they die.
[18:03] The process of self-affirmation seems to be really good for you as well as having a stronger purpose and being able to articulate that purpose.
[20:05] Research has shown that people with a low purpose in life have a greater likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease, after seven years or retirement.
[21:10] Purpose is a goal or set of goals around the things that matter most in life.
[21:59] There are over 2,000 studies that setting goals work.
[22:48] Sentinel goals are goals you visualize with crystal clear clarity and have a secret pathway towards attaining that goal.
[23:59] People with more purpose have less activation in the part of the brain that relates to conflict.
[24:32] When Buddhists talk about focusing the mind, but it seems like what they’re really talking about is removing the extraneous things that clutter the mind.
[27:04] Having purpose means seeing things in a new way.
[30:14] Dr. Strecher always admired the spirituality of religious people. Religious people seem to have a strong purpose.
[33:36] To find your purpose start asking the questions of what matters most.
[34:54] Look for people who you would like to emulate. Think about what you would want people to say about you at your memorial service. Create the why of your life and assemble everything together.
[37:23] Statistics are showing that we are losing our purpose in our life. Dr. Strecher has a goal of helping 1 billion people find the purpose in their life.
[39:38] Studies among students have shown that their general purpose has gone down and general depression has gone up.
[42:24] The epiphany for Michael was when his wife left, and he was alone in his 5000 square foot house.
[43:13] Dr. Strecher’s younger daughter caught chicken pox, and it completely destroyed her heart. She was eligible for a heart transplant. She had the transplant and then a second one. When she was 19, she was in nursing school. During spring break, she had a sudden heart attack and died.
[46:10] A few months later, Dr. Strecher found himself alone kayaking to the middle of Lake Michigan. He saw the sunrise and everything started glittering. As the sun came up, he felt his daughter, and it seemed she was saying you need to get over this.
[48:12] After this, he wrote down what mattered most and then made goals around that. This changed his life.
[53:04] Figure out how to align yourself with your purpose. Being aligned with your purpose is a constant daily practice.
[54:45] Loving kindness meditation is extending good feelings to people you love, then people you don’t know, then people you don’t even like.
[56:58] Think about doing things that are bigger than yourself.
[01:01:03] The first thing we need to do is understand who we are and why we are on this planet or ethos. It also has to be logical to us. The meaning of life is to teach.
[01:02:44] We are who we choose to be, so we should be careful who we choose to be.
[01:13:02] We can’t know or understand reality. We can just try to live the biggest best life that we can.
[01:22:02] Memento Mori literally translates into you will die. We should treat each day as a gift and not waste time on things that are trivial. When we meditate on our death, we really think about what we have done.
Links and Resources:
“I actually get a lot of requests for podcasts, and frankly, I just don’t have time to do most of them, but you seem to have really understood what I’m doing and appreciated it, so that’s why I’m doing this.” Dr. Victor Strecher
“We are who we choose to be, so we should be careful who we choose to be.” Dr. Victor Strecher
“It’s very important to repurpose your life with something that’s active and something that’s transcending.” Dr. Victor Strecher