Joie De Vivre: Living With A “Ravenous Thirst For Life”: “Know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it” With Talya Miron-Shatz, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Buddy&Soul, and Dr. Marina Kostina

Know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Then own it. It doesn’t matter what you do — because we’ve all seen sandwich makers who are happy and proud of what they do, and executives who are neither. I’m very lucky to love what I do, and to believe it matters. Do you ever wake up in […]

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Know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Then own it. It doesn’t matter what you do — because we’ve all seen sandwich makers who are happy and proud of what they do, and executives who are neither. I’m very lucky to love what I do, and to believe it matters.

Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, unchallenged, and have nothing to look forward to? It doesn’t have to be that way. One idea that I always advice my clients is the concept of “Finding and Living Life Purpose”

The idea here is that often we pursue in life what the society (or our parents tell us to do). We push hard, get degrees and great jobs… and even if we accomplish all of that we still fill hollow inside.

Instead we need to find and tune it to our soul’s purpose.

Because no matter how many outward achievements we will have if we are not aligned internally we will not be fulfilled.

And when we don’t live our purpose, the universe gets involved. It starts creating circumstances that demand our shrewd actions and a sensible approach. It involves us in relationships, events, and situations that are at times painful, tragic and difficult. It molds our character to be responsive to perilous situations. It is like a wake-up call because we are pushed and made to persevere to conquer our demons. As only when we are in distress, do we learn to grow and become strong and resolute.

When you connect with your life purpose, you get on the right track, the track to self-discovery and self-worth. Your sense of self expands, all of your doubts and criticisms of others do not matter because you are connected to something bigger than you and become larger than life. You have a message to share with the world and that is precisely why your self-esteem grows.

As a part of our series interviewing experts on how to live a “ravenous life” — a life filled with the passion, pleasure, playfulness and abundance that come naturally to those who dare to be authentic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Talya Miron-Shatz. Talya Miron-Shatz, PhD, is CEO and co-founder of Buddy&Soul, a digital platform for personal development. Buddy&Soul is a forward-thinking brand, premised on the realization that to make behavior change happen, you need comprehensive support targeting issues around your wellbeing, mental resources, health, and inner peace.

A PhD in social psychology, Dr. Miron-Shatz worked at Princeton University alongside Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman and taught at the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. She is a world-known expert in medical decision making with over 50 publications on the topic.

Through her consulting firm, CureMyWay, she has an intimate knowledge of what pharma, health advertisers, and corporations need, having worked with numerous start-ups and giants like Pfizer, BMS, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Abbvie, InTouch Solutions, FCB, Edelman PR, NantHealth, and Samsung.

Talya founded Buddy&Soul a few years ago, with the goal of disrupting the health and wellness spaces. She thinks existing solutions are not broad enough to encompass all that people really need to change their lives for good.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Pure chance. I never thought I’d be an academic, or an entrepreneur. In fact, growing up, I didn’t know you could be either. I went back to grad school for a PhD a bit later in life. I’d already had an MA and was working as an organizational psychologist, but I was seeking something to keep me interested. What I found amazing about academia (and entrepreneurship, which came a bit later) is how limitless they are. There is no hierarchy; there are no walls. I wanted to study happiness? Voila! Digital health? Likewise. Because I make friends easily, and am interested in many things, I was able to have an incredibly versatile career.

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

I’d say — know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Then own it. It doesn’t matter what you do — because we’ve all seen sandwich makers who are happy and proud of what they do, and executives who are neither. I’m very lucky to love what I do, and to believe it matters. And even when I’m doing annoying administrative tasks, I just do them, very @Byron Katie, without moaning over how annoying they are. I tell myself I have a choice, and I’m choosing to do this. I am super blessed to be working for the important cause of helping improve people’s lives, both through my research and through Buddy&Soul.

Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?

As a pre-teen, I had to wear a back brace. And let me tell you something about a back brace: it’s not the best way to help a girl befriend her body. But, more to the point of my life’s purpose, it was also not the best way to help me feel empowered. I was very passive as a patient — nobody explained anything or asked me what I wanted. And it never occurred for me to ask. When I grew up, and medical decision making crossed my path as an academic, I felt an irresistible pull. Before I knew it, I was doing it 24/7. I was studying, speaking publicly — most pronouncedly for Donate Life America — and consulting pharma, health advertisers, start-ups, and corporations on all things related to patient involvement. I was paying my debt to the girl I used to be. I elaborate on that in the book I’m writing, Your Life Depends on It: How to Make Better Medical Decisions (working title).

The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

I think Americans, and probably people of other nationalities too, are looking for love (or happiness) in all the wrong places. We live in a rich society, which we should be thankful for. But we shouldn’t be making the mistake of replacing purpose with objects. Buying more won’t make you happy. We recently moved homes, which was a sobering experience as I realized how much stuff we had. I gave away a ton of clothes and housewares and made the kids clear out their rooms, as they’d already moved out anyway. So much excess. It made me very picky about what I buy and what I really need. Do I want to have all the pretty things I see in stores and online? Yes! But I usually take a deep breath and move on.

Of course, there’s more.

We’re becoming disconnected from one another, our noses stuck in our mobile devices, and there we find social media. It’s a great way to stay connected, but it can also get toxic. When everybody is having fun (and we normally only post when we’re having fun), then I can get jealous. And when my Instagram or Twitter account @buddy_n_soul has fewer followers than someone else’s, or when we have fewer likes on our Facebook page , it becomes all too easy to compare and be upset about it.

Finally, and perhaps more on the opposite of Joie de vivre — back in 2009 when I was at Princeton University, I published a paper on financial security, showing that when you’re concerned about it, you’re unhappy; in fact, as unhappy as when your income is low. Worrying over medical insurance is a damper too, we found.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I always feel strange when referred to as successful, but I decided a long time ago to focus on medical decision making as a way of making my small contribution. More recently, I co-founded Buddy&Soul, a platform for personal development, and I am super excited about the ways in which it can improve people’s lives.

What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

  1. Make it fun! Even if it’s not intuitive. A few years ago I did Lasik surgery to remove my glasses and look gorgeous. The result is, of course, that I look even more gorgeous than before, but also that my eyes are dry. I need to use drops a few times a day. Whenever I do, I make a point of saying, ‘This is great,’ because it is great that the drops help. So much better than thinking, ‘Darn, I wish my eyes weren’t dry.’
  2. I think I learned this from Gretchen Rubin — to bring happiness to dull spaces. And so, I glued some of my most heart-warming possessions to the inside of my bathroom cabinet, which I open and see several times a day. There are the birthday greetings my son and daughter wrote me, and the most beautiful ode I’ve ever read: a love poem written by my youngest child to her sister. These never fail to move me.
  3. Wine. I know what you’re thinking. But I drink very little, maybe the equivalent of a chaser of red wine with lunch whenever I can. It feels luxurious, gets me very mildly giddy, and is my way of signaling to my body (and soul!) that this is a time to savor.
  4. Have something to look forward to. Every day. We were just on holiday at the Cote D’Azur, which is spectacular. But, if you live from one holiday to another and are miserable in between, that’s not so great, to say the least. Our Create a Pleasant Reality course teaches you how to do exactly that — to live life with pleasure, even when your life offers few luxuries. At the end of a long day, when you have a good book by your bed, or your favorite show to watch, or your daily phone call with your sister, or anything that floats your boat and you can count on happening, you are good.
  5. Eat healthy and with pleasure. We’ve managed to develop such complex relationships with food, placing moral judgment on it and harming our bodies. One of my favorite Buddy&Soul courses is Spark a Change in Your Eating Habits, which is all about disentangling the emotional mess and learning to re-connect with our bodies. Then, eating — be it a salad or a decadent desert — brings joie de vivre.
  6. Love! Love is all-encompassing, and life is so dull without it. I am so blessed to love and be loved by my children, spouse, mother, close friends. Even at Buddy&Soul, we’ve managed to create a warm and fuzzy company, where people really care about one another. Love brings joy, and obliterates or at least mitigates stress, which is the ultimate killjoy.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

An old favorite, which I discovered as a child, is Daddy Long Legs, an American classic. It’s about an orphan girl who gets sent to college by a mysterious benefactor. She offers such a grateful, awe-filled perspective to so many things we take for granted — such as choosing our own clothes rather than wearing hand-me-downs, sleeping in a room of your own, having friends, and getting an education. She is never blasé about any of this, and neither should we be.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’d go with ‘Smile, and the world smiles with you.’ And if it doesn’t smile with you, at least you get nice smile wrinkles instead of frown lines.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Buddy&Soul is launching its Student community, which offers much-needed support to students in the privacy and convenience of their own digital devices. About 40% of college students suffer from anxiety, depression, or both. And the rest aren’t necessarily living happily ever after. When I taught at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, I had the honor of teaching highly motivated, capable individuals. But they were also young people away from home, dealing with massive amounts of stress, academically and socially. We offer content and courses on crucial topics such as sleep, stress management, habit formation, prioritizing, living authentically, and emotionally decluttering. With millions of students out there feeling self-conscious and overworked, I think this kind of readily-available psychological support can make a huge difference.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would get everyone to sign up to Buddy&Soul. Not because it’s my brainchild, but for two major reasons:

  1. Buddy&Soul focuses on personal development, on changing your life for good. It gives you tools to get to the point where you view your life, and yourself, lovingly and appreciatively. And if you need to deal with illness, it helps you too. This is joie de vivre from within.
  2. When you sign up, you join a community with which to learn and grow. Its definitely a journey, not a quick fix. I love that it takes time to go through the courses each community offers. Our Wellness community, for instance, offers six courses around lifestyle concerns like eating habits, sleep, mindfulness, stress, a positive outlook on life, and more. The Essentially You community goes deeper and helps you figure out what makes you you. Made up of twelve courses around identity, authenticity, priorities, goals, and life purpose, you can spend a year taking them, although you could also work through them more quickly on your own. Our platform is science-based, but also fun and very actionable. Every small step you take is registered and acknowledged, which is very rewarding. I wouldn’t do it any other way, because part of my own joie de vivre comes from appreciating every tiny bit of progress I make in the enormous projects I take on. Don’t wait till later to be happy!

About The Author:

Dr. Marina Kostina is a life and business fulfillment coach. She uses research and energy work to help professional women find their purpose and turn it into a profitable business. Dr. Kostina incorporates innovative marketing strategies and the creation of engaging, lucrative online courses to scale their businesses. As a result they enjoy what she describes as a “ravenous life” — a life filled with the passion, pleasure, playfulness and abundance that come naturally to those who dare to be authentic. Her book “Find the G-Spot of Your Soul” is available January 2018. Download a free gift from Dr. Kostina- an MP3 Meditation Album “Find The G –Spot Of Your Soul” and get unstuck.

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