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Michigan Alum Finds Secret to Optimal Life Through “Vitality” 

Dr. Allan Mishra focuses on four pillars to find life balance 

In 2016, Dr. Allan Mishra stood on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, looking out across the Coral Sea, and found the key to living a life of purpose.  


It was that sense of calm and peace the Sigma Nu alum from the University of Michigan wanted to capture and apply to his busy life as a husband, father, orthopedic surgeon, and 20-year faculty member at Stanford University Medical Center. 

“I wanted to experience as many of those moments as possible in my life,” said Dr. Mishra, who is also a sports medicine specialist.  “That’s when I started scientifically studying the word vitality.” 

Back in California, he started gathering information through discussions and surveys with over 1,000 people who shared their secrets of living well.  

He eventually landed on the definition of vitality: purposeful, vigorous, and connected living. He also found that a sense of purpose can serve as an individual’s road map of life. 

“So if you know your purpose, then it serves as the foundation of your vitality,” Dr. Mishra concluded. 

He also recognized living a long life and living a vital life was very different goals. 

“I don't want to live forever and be miserable,” Dr. Mishra explains. “I'd rather do what I can and be vital…and perhaps that leads to living longer.” 

Through his research, he determined the core “pillars” of vitality came down to four structures:  physical, mental, social, and spiritual connections. When these four pillars are in balance, vitality soars. 

Three years later, Dr. Mishra created a program, Dare to be Vital, and was teaching the concepts of attaining vitality in Stanford University classrooms, in organizational boardrooms, and through webinars and seminars.  

His book, “Vitality Essentials Course Book,” was released in April 2020. The publication “distilled down” about 400 pages of writing into 100 pages of specific, actionable advice about how to live your most vital life. 

Releasing the book during a global pandemic was intentional. 

“This work I believe was perfectly timed to help people during the pandemic when we have all struggled with our physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being,” said Dr. Mishra. 

From a personal standpoint, he leaned on the “connection” pillar during the pandemic through his Sigma Nu brothers spread out across the country.  

Dr. Mishra began by hosting virtual chapter meetings with a group of fraternity brothers to connect and catch up. The success of those small “Zoom chapters” led to opening the meeting to Sigma Nu brothers who attended Michigan in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  

“It was awesome to see guys we hadn't seen in 10, 15, or even 20 years,” said Dr. Mishra. “Instantly stories were being told…connections were being made…and that’s a huge part of vitality.” 

In fact, social connection is often the pillar that tends to be overlooked, but so necessary in a balanced life. 

“I’ve always been super focused on my career and on my family, and even on my own physical health,” he said. “But one of the things I neglected up until a few years ago was my social connectivity.” 

Being able to connect with fraternity brothers beyond those just in his local area was a bonus. 

“Sigma Nu was transformative for me when I was a student at Michigan…and it remains a foundation of my vitality,” Dr. Mishra said. 

Thinking back to his freshman year at Michigan, going Greek was never a priority. His sole focus early on was to become a doctor.  

While still in high school, Dr. Mishra had applied and been accepted to the highly competitive Interflex program which was a six-year undergraduate and medical school program. 

“I was lucky to be admitted,” he said, noting the reputation of Michigan’s medical school program. 

Once on campus, a hallmate from his dorm convinced him to rush, primarily on the promise of the social aspects.  

The two affable, athletic freshmen were popular among fraternity row, but when it came down to pledging a house, Sigma Nu stood out.  

It was the focus on support and brotherhood that led to his decision, and which turned out to be more than just a rush pitch. 

When Dr. Mishra hit a wall his sophomore year, both academically and personally, his Sigma Nu brothers rallied around him and were the force that propelled him to the graduation finish line. 

“So I didn't even know it at the time, but the social and spiritual pillars [of vitality] that I now rely on were foundationally started at Sigma Nu.,” Dr. Mishra said. “Being able to have brothers to support me both academically and socially was fantastic.” 

He explains the spirituality pillar is not based just on religion, but simply a belief in something bigger than yourself. 

“It’s about doing something to serve somebody else, which is a lot of what Sigma Nu exemplifies,” he explains. 

The bottom line, says Dr. Mishra, is that vitality is a learned skill, not a biological element found in your genes that sets you apart.  

“If it's a skill, you can work on it…you can read about it…you can learn it,” he explains. “When was the last time you spent 15 minutes of your day thinking about what your purpose is?” 

For Dr. Mishra, his purpose now is to enhance global vitality, one person at a time. He recently launched VitalityExplorers.com where subscribers can receive his latest scientific research through a free text message newsletter on how to stay vital. 

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