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Living Well: Marymount’s Inaugural Malek Lecture in the Health Professions

Friday, November 18, 2011
Marymount recently held the inaugural Malek Lecture in the Health Professions, featuring Distinguished Visiting Professor Dr. Eileen O’Grady, PhD, RN, NP-BC. She spoke on Promoting Generosity Toward the Self: A Life Well Lived.

Dr. O’Grady, a Marymount alumna (Nursing, '84), worked as a nurse practitioner for 20 years, treating patients with chronic illness until she decided to view the problem from another perspective. She explained, “I decided that instead of fixing what’s broken, my preference is to help people live a healthier life. So, I went into wellness coaching.”

She pointed out, “A tsunami of chronic illness is overwhelming the health care system, but disease can be reversed with dramatic lifestyle changes.” Dr. O’Grady added that to reduce the risks associated with poor health, more emphasis must be placed on how we live, what we put in our bodies, how we move or don’t move, and how we manage our inner lives.

For many people, the relationship most neglected is the relationship to self. In her practice, Dr. O’Grady works with clients to help them develop a positive psychology by “learning optimism,” having a passion for one’s mission, approaching life zestfully, expressing gratitude, and living in the moment. Alternatively, pitfalls to avoid include a negativity bias, evidenced by over-thinking situations; making social comparisons; anticipating the worst; and, in general, giving in to pessimism and cynicism.

In addition to providing insight into how to manage our inner selves, Dr. O’Grady related “Eight Lessons from the World’s Healthiest Humans.”

They are:
1.  Move Naturally - Walking is the best activity for longevity.
2.  Know Your Purpose – Embrace your values, passions, and talent.
3.  Down Shift – Reverse stress by building in time for relaxation
4.  Apply the 80% Rule – Lose 20% of your calories. Evidence-based practice suggests that a healthy eating pattern includes a big breakfast, eating with family, turning off the TV , and pausing for a pre-meal appreciation or meditation.
5.  Plant Slant –Include lots of vegetables in your diet, and eat meat in small portions for protein.
6.  Family First - Living in a thriving family can add six years to life expectancy.
7.  Belong – Believe in something; cultivate a relationship. For many, this could be a faith-based experience.
8.  Right Tribe – Take stock and put value in your family and friends.

Dr. O’Grady concluded with observations drawn from her coaching experience that help people achieve the right balance for living a healthy and happy life. She emphasized, “Strengths, when fully deployed, buffer defeats. And, setting and achieving reasonable goals is deeply satisfying.”
Dr. Tess Cappello (left), dean of the Malek School of Health Professions, presents Dr. Eileen O'Grady with a Distinguished Visiting Professor certificate of appreciation.
 Photo by Thiha (Kay) Soe