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Living on Purpose

September 28, 2017

Are you living in your purpose? Not your career or job, but your purpose. As a physician, I strongly believe that the path to purpose leads to good health and life fulfillment. This is a topic that is seldom discussed from a medical perspective, but one of extreme importance.

Think about what you loved to do as a child. Does that reflect what you do now as an adult? When I was little, I would patch up my friends’ “boo-boos”, spent hours sewing clothes for my dolls and styling their hair. As an adult, I am a physician who loves fashion and styling hair. Not much has changed. My road to naturopathic medicine was very circuitous, but I always knew I wanted to help people throug disease prevention, so I held on to that. I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do know that I was given the gift of healing. I enjoy what I do; I am living my dream by providing holistic medical treatments to my patients. There is nothing better than empowering people to take ownership of their health. One of my favorite questions to ask when getting to know someone is, “What is your passion”? The answer tells me a lot about that person; it tells me what he/she was put on this earth to do.

How A Coach Can Change Your Life

If you don’t know “what you want be when you grow up”, but you’re already grown up, let me help you! Save yourself time and frustration and get a life coach on board. A life coach can help you focus on the areas of your life that require attention. Having a life coach is like having your own personal cheerleader and accountability partner that helps you develop an action plan towards your goals. It is a unique working relationship where you as the client are held accountable for completing the steps towards your action plan.

Life coaching can benefit anyone. Coaching areas include relationships, financial wealth, spiritual growth and health and wellness. The International Coach Federation (ICF) cites these benefits of employing a coach: fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, increased confidence and increased productivity. Life coaching can be easily misconstrued as counseling or therapy; in fact, it is quite different. Interestingly though, many elements of life coaching stem from humanistic and transpersonal psychology.

PERMA Model

It is my belief that illness keeps one from realizing his/her purpose. The healing process very often involves a change in mindset. Mindset can either promote health or promote disease. Dr. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model provides a theoretical framework for looking at well-being which includes health. The 5 components of this model include: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments. While I could write a separate article about the PERMA model alone, what I wish to highlight is how these concepts can be applied to your life through life coaching.

Positive Emotion
Positive emotion aka optimism has been seen in research studies to positively affect health. This does not mean that the optimist will never become ill. However, according to researchers at the University of Michigan, optimism can mitigate the likelihood of initial onset of illness; minimize the severity of illness; speed recovery; and make relapse less likely. Of course, this is a difficult area to infer conclusions, but it is safe to say no one loses anything adopting a more positive outlook on life.

Engagement
When engaging in an enjoyable activity, a flow is created that often results in keeping us in the present moment. For some people this activity may be a hobby, participating in a sport, or an artistic endeavor. If you do not have an activity that keeps you engaged, find one! Experiment and have fun trying something new. Ideally, it should be something that also taps into your spirit, which contributes tremendously to well-being (for me, this includes prayer and meditation).

Relationships
The importance of relationships cannot be overstated; having a support network is essential in life. We do not exist alone in this world and human connection is important to our mental health. We crave community and loneliness can be a dangerous human emotion. Dr. Mitch Prinstein notes that pain centers in the brain become activated when we are at risk of isolation.

Meaning
Living your passion helps you find meaning in life. Cornell developmental psychologist Anthony Burrows’ research suggests that having a sense of purpose may protect individuals from stress, specifically individuals from marginalized communities. When you feel your life has purpose, particularly one that is greater than yourself, the likelihood for life satisfaction is increased. In a study by researchers Hill and Turiano, people with a sense of purpose had a 15 percent lower risk of death, compared with those who did not. It appears that a sense of purpose leads to a longer life. The great thing is it is never too late to find your purpose and add some years to your life!

Accomplishment
Perhaps the most gratifying part of goal setting is goal accomplishment. Dr. Seligman points out that accomplishment is more closely linked to our ability to be ambitious and having an achievement-oriented mindset. Life coaches can help you set goals, be positive, and have the optimistic mindset necessary to overcome challenges.

How Does Coaching Work?

You can meet with a life coach virtually or in person. When you meet with a coach, he/she will conduct a personal interview to identify the areas that you wish to improve upon and will discuss your life goals. Be forewarned, the process is not necessarily easy. It requires some work on your part and a good coach will be sure to highlight some areas of focus that you may be struggling with.

Finding A Coach That’s Right for You

Tanya Wallace, a certified professional life coach practicing in Connecticut, stresses the importance of seeking a coach who has attended a program certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF). There are three levels of coaching leading to certification: Associate, Professional and Master Coach. The ICF website has a “Credentialed Coach Finder” which serves as a good resource to locate a certified coach. LinkedIn has a feature on ProFinder that allows you to seek out a life coach of your choosing in various areas including career, relationships, and/or spirituality. Prior to contacting a life coach, you should be ready to make changes in your life and be open to someone else’s viewpoints on your situation. Most importantly, it is vital to expect a good partnership with your coach that challenges you and motivates you to strive for your highest goals.

Note: Coaching should not be confused with professional counseling. If you need assistance with a mental health disorder or illness, please contact a licensed health care professional.

Dr. Jennifer C. Pierre, ND, MPH is a licensed Naturopathic Physician in Connecticut and Arizona. Her specialties include chronic diseases, clinical nutrition, allergies, women’s health, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases, acupuncture, stress and anxiety disorders and natural hair/skin care. Dr. Pierre received her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona. Dr. Pierre is currently accepting new patients at ProNatural Physicians Group in Berlin, CT and Revive Wellness Center in New Haven/Milford, CT. For more information about her and her services, visit: DrJPierre.com, pronaturalphysicians.com or revivewellnesscenter.com.

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