5 Simple Steps:
1. Do something nice for another person and ACCEPT it when someone else tries to do it for you. The other day I was sitting at Paediatric Rounds and really wanting coffee but it was 8:03 AM (rounds were probably going to start in a couple of minutes). My colleague had left the room and I texted him to see if he was getting coffee so he could grab me one as well. He actually had gone to the bathroom but texted back saying he’d pick up a coffee for me on the way back to Rounds from the bathroom. He made himself late for Rounds and really didn’t have to do that. I said a million thank-yous. For some reason, we have a hard time accepting nice gestures from others and feel that we should be the ones doing the ‘giving.’ He made my day and I realized that ONE unexpected nice gesture in either direction every day makes the world of a difference. Try it tomorrow.
2. Reframe the situation. Countless times people say ‘hindsight is 20/20,’ and I always thought it was too cliché. I still think it’s cliché but it is true that everything is exaggerated in the moment. We tend to forget to put things in perspective and we often forget the potential positive outcomes of a situation. A family member called me to say he got his car/license taken away for the next 7 days for speeding on the highway. Some may say that the car/license being revoked maybe saved him from something worse that was going to happen at his destination. If you don’t see it that way, hopefully you’ll agree with me that this taught a lesson about speeding. If that doesn’t work, channel your energy towards reminding yourself of the goal of what you were doing and what you are hoping to achieve. When we are going through medical school, we focus on the preceptor that initially didn’t like us or the test that we failed. Instead, we should focus on the things we learned overcoming those obstacles. If that still doesn’t work, remind yourself that someone out there probably has it worse than you and still made it through.
3. Embrace all your emotions. We frequently equate having an argument with a friend as a ‘bad day,’ or answering a question incorrectly with ‘I know nothing on this rotation.’ Neither is true. Self-validate your sadness post-argument. Ask a question or clarify with your team member if you’re frustrated or confused. Don’t wait for someone else to reassure you of your emotion. Instead, recognize the emotion, which will allow you to have an overall satisfaction with yourself for acknowledging it. Being happy does not mean you can’t be upset for 1 (or more) of the 24 hours of the day.
4. Remember that everyone has a different threshold for “happiness.” Some people want to spend their post-call days being productive and others totally want to chill out. There’s really no correct answer and frankly it doesn’t matter what makes each of us happy so long as we’re doing it. Social media also skews our perception of this. It imparts on us that in order to be happy, there’s a formula or some sort of recipe of the balance in your life you must strike. I’m not saying you should get rid of social media platforms but do not use it as a benchmark of where you should be to achieve happiness. Find your own balance.
5. If it makes you happy, why question it? I think this was a line on an episode of the The O.C. (my favourite show as a teenager). Similar to my first point, we often try to suppress our happiness especially when we are trying to stay focused or on our “A-game.” Showing your true personality and doing the things you love will attract people (even if they do or do not share the same interests) because they’re curious about what it is that you’re so passionate about. Feeling giddy about your interests is not mutually exclusive with being serious. My friend called me the other night and was telling me that her preceptor on Family Medicine was bonding with her over having the same Aritzia pants. I’m not saying you should buy the same pants as your preceptor, but wear your pants and wear them proudly!