The job of medicine is tough. That goes without saying. As doctors and as humans, we are supposed to be given challenges or setbacks. It makes us stronger when we learn from them. Without these bumps in the road, life would actually be kind of boring when you think about it. Sure, insurance companies are gouging society with their double-digit increases in premiums and double digit profits. Sure, pharmaceutical companies are laughing all the way to the bank with unscrupulous patents to keep their products priced high. Sure, some administrators or patients or colleagues make us want to slit our wrists. The question is, however, are you too far gone that you can’t find some peace, some happiness or at least find some humor in life? In order to ground yourself, here are some questions that you may want to think about:
- Happy people build a life around their passions. I guarantee that medicine was a passion for every one of you at one time. Is it now?
- Are you living your dream life?
- Do you do the things you love to do regardless of the pressures to do otherwise?
- How many of you even know what things in life you need to do in order to be happy?
- How many of you start each morning consciously thinking, planning or intending to be happy each day versus just trying to make it through the day?
- How many think their job or life is more proactive versus reactive?
- When you look back on your life, could you say you did what you loved to do every day?
- How many of you have trapped yourself supporting overwhelming material commitments that are killing you financially and changing the way you look at your job?
- How many of you get caught waiting to be happy in retirement versus trying to be happy now?
- If your friends, family and colleagues were privately interviewed and asked if you were a happy person, what would they say? Honestly? How about your kids?
There are no perfect solutions or answers to these questions. They are really just made to make you think. I have collected them from different books over the years for myself. Maybe they will make you reflect on your career and life just a little bit. Who knows? Just remember, this job and this life will continue to be filled with hurdles. It is our perspective about these issues that makes us either want to quit or go on being physicians. Personally, I keep going because I can still laugh at some of the things in this job. The open stool sample squashed in the envelope that comes back to my office in the mail is funny. The narc seeker who thinks I don’t look her up in the Prescription Monitoring Program makes my heart sing when I catch her. A hospital COO who tries to talk to me in “Administralian” (using terms like benchmark, metrics, engagement, etc.) hoping that I won’t understand what he is saying can be a riot. To me, these are now special treats that help me get through the day. This doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t question myself about my life and job. I do. A lot.