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Purpose and Managing Emotions

Recently, I had a lively discussion with Ethan Kross during our “Mental Health Month is Over. Now What?” webinar. I always come out of a conversation with Ethan Kross feeling energized. He’s the real deal – a renowned scientist studying the right things in the right way. Ethan dives into one of the most difficult yet important issues we’re facing personally, and in our organizations today: namely, how to keep our heads on straight during difficult times.

Ethan’s book Chatter synthesizes hundreds of studies – many from his own Emotions and Self Control Lab at the University of Michigan – to help real people better manage their emotions. One of the learnings from our research together is this: purpose in life is very connected with emotional self-management and resilience. The most purpose-associated coping strategies – like seeing the big picture, engaging in a family or religious ritual, and communing with nature – are also the most effective strategies for coping with stress! These evidence-backed go-to strategies clearly outperform others like indulging in drink, over-eating, venting to others, and hiding our feelings when it comes to coping with challenging emotions. And here’s the kicker: people with stronger purpose in life are far more likely to use the effective strategies, and far less likely to lean into the less adaptive ones. They show greater resilience, and better emotional self-regulation.

Toward the end of our conversation, Ethan commented on the use of science (or lack thereof!) in many real-world vendor solutions. He lamented how he sees many “experts” recommending ineffective or even harmful approaches to build emotional regulation and mental health in employer-based programs. There’s a strong and growing science that supports the stuff that works – and we at Kumanu keep it real by following this science. We hope you do too!

Stay purposeful my friends!


About PurposeCast

PurposeCast is a series of conversations highlighting purpose-driven thought leaders, experts, and innovators. Through their stories, get a glimpse into their journeys and gain insights and actionable tips for yourself. Learn how they harnessed their purpose to live bigger lives and how you can too.


Ethan Kross, PhD

Award-winning Professor of Psychology and Best-Selling Author

Ethan is an award-winning professor, bestselling author, and the director of the Emotion and Self-Control Lab in the University of Michigan’s top-ranked Psychology Department and its Ross School of Business. He studies how the conversations people have with themselves impact their health, performance, decisions, and relationships. He uses a variety of tools (e.g., behavioral, diary, physiological, neuroscience, social media) to address these issues and focuses on adult, child and clinical populations. Ethan is the author the National Bestseller Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters and How to Harness It, which was chosen as one of the best new books of the year by the Washington Post, CNN and USA Today and the Winning Winter 2021 selection for Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain and Dan Pink’s Next Big Idea Book Club.


professional headshot of vic strecher

Vic Strecher, PhD, MPH

CEO and Chief Purpose Officer, Kumanu

Vic Strecher (PhD, MPH) is a leader and visionary in the fields of purpose and wellbeing, creating new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. In 1998, Vic created Health Media pioneering Web-based “digital health coaching.” Since January 2014, Vic has given keynote presentations about the role of purpose in life, energy, and willpower to over 1,500 organizations, providing him the opportunity to not only respond to the growing interests of the market, but to also continue to help shape it. In late 2015, Kumanu (formerly JOOL Health) was launched as a major paradigm shift in how individuals engage in the pursuit of purpose, meaning and wellbeing while offering organizations a more insightful means to support positive culture and behavior change.

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