About dR. Sam Gerstein...
I grew up in Toronto in a good home but there was a stressful component that I didn’t fully comprehend. My father was a concentration camp survivor who was so traumatized he just suppressed his emotions. At the time, psychotherapy was not yet attuned to the ravages of PTSD. My mother came from a single parent home, her father had left the home when she was very young, and my mom had to leave high school, something she loved, to work because the family needed money.
So, the emphasis in my family became education as a way out of pain. They were caring, well-meaning parents and I know they loved me. They just didn’t understand the significance of how our emotional state affects our lives. Very few people do.
So, I grew up revering education. I was told, “If you were intellectually smart you could have it all.” In society, thinking often eclipses emotions. I was informed that stress was something you could overcome and the more you achieved, the better you would feel.
Their focus worked - I became a doctor and worked in the ER for over 20 years. I then became chief of my department. I felt proud of achieving this and felt briefly happy but after a month, an emptiness and confusion began creeping in. I realized this wasn’t the “top of the mountain” experience I was expecting. I went away for a week to contemplate my state. I kept telling myself messages like “I should be happy” or “Be grateful for what you have”. But these platitudes didn’t change my feelings. Then abruptly, at the end of the week, it hit me like a ton of bricks...
My parents’ map of success was well-meaning but flawed.
I thought: perhaps outcomes don’t bring happiness – perhaps it was the process of what you are doing that is the key.
For the next 2 years I began exploring this belief through introspection, psychotherapy, reading books on success, the mind and emotional intelligence. I decided instead of going for a goal (a thinking-driven outcome), I would begin doing what I loved (an emotionally driven process). I took psychotherapy courses, I joined the Toastmasters Speaking organization and even did some improv at Second City – all because I liked doing those things and not because I was trying to achieve anything. What a concept. I never knew. This resonated with me.
After 2 years or exploring, I thought if I, as a doctor, didn't see this link between outcome goals and higher stress, perhaps I could help many others who don't see this link either. It turns out that link between mind and body is very strong. Over two-thirds of people who come to the ER have illnesses caused by or precipitated by stress. That includes chronic back pain, migraine headaches, stomach reflux, alcohol abuse and heart attacks. And work stress is the #1 cause of stress in society. That makes sense because work is the thing that most people spend more time doing than anything else in their lives.
I began giving talks around the city helping associations and businesses reduce work stress. The World health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Similarly, I wanted to help people uncover their optimal work and not merely one where they have less stress.
So, over the course of 3 and a half years, I studied entrepreneurs who loved what they did at work to uncover their secrets and published 40 of the best stories in my book, Live Your Dreams: Doctor's Orders where I share with others how they can begin doing it too.
I completely switched my work life to focus on helping entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs-at-heart manage their work stress, change their limiting beliefs and modify their self-sabotaging behaviour to discover, start and optimize their own custom-fit business. This was not a head choice but a heart choice.
There is no better feeling for me than to see a client light up after she has learned to manage her own stresses and instead of avoiding them, she is confronting the challenges at work and in her life with a newfound vigor and confidence.
I am married to a wonderful wife and have two great boys and our dog, Bella.
I enjoy African drumming, coaching hockey and reading consciousness-raising books.
My purpose is helping entrepreneurs-at-heart find theirs!
See Dr. Sam's interviews on SLICE TV....
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