*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*
Here’s my column in the March issue of Emergency Medicine News.
Second Opinion: Be Smarter Than Your Brain
“Everyone is a drug seeker. Why does everyone want to be on disability? I’m so tired of lies. Great, another lousy shift. I wonder who will die tonight? I’m so sick of suffering. I’m so weary of misery and loss. I hope this never happens to my family. I’ll probably get sued. Being sued nearly drove me crazy. This job never gets easier, only harder. I have to find something else to do; I can’t go on this way. I think I’m going crazy. I don’t have any more compassion. People hate me now.”
These are only a few of the wonderful thoughts that float through the minds of emergency physicians these days. Sure, not every physician has them. But I know our specialty, I know our colleagues, I hear from doctors around the country and I see that fear, frustration and anxiety are common themes.
Older physicians fantasize about career changes, and younger ones are often blind-sided by the hard realities of practice outside of their training programs (where their work-hours and staffing do not necessarily reflect the world beyond).
We are crushed by regulations and overwhelmed by holding patients, often put in situations where we are set squarely between the devil and the deep blue sea. “Spend more time with your patients; see them faster. Don’t let the ‘psychiatric hold’ patient escape; why are you using so much staff on psychiatric patients? See chest pain immediately; why didn’t you see the board member’s ankle injury as fast as the chest pain?”
In all of this mess of emergency medicine, we often find ourselves frustrated and bitter. But is it only because of our situations? They are admittedly daunting. But is our unhappiness merely the result of the things imposed on us? Or could it be more complex than that? Lately, I have come to wonder if our thoughts are perhaps worse enemies than even lawsuits, regulations, or satisfaction scores. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*
Life sometimes gets in the way of daily posting. Specifically, the treadmill of life sometimes roars too fast.
But as I strolled through the hospital this morning, there was a plain piece of white paper taped to the wall around the nurses station. Although I’m not overly religious (and even highly conflicted about which rituals are the right ones), these words from a pastor/celebrity stopped me for a moment:
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.
It will make or break a company, a church, or a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.
We cannot change the past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is plan on the one thing that we have, and that is our attitude.
I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.
As a cardiologist programmed to “alert” most of the time, words such as these help me. I haven’t seen the studies yet, but I’m guessing that positive attitudes reduce inflammation, which is good for our atria, and our arteries.
*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*
You know that person you work with, the one that always seems to be in a bad mood, the one that never smiles, the one that never has a nice thing to say and complains about every little thing? The person that just seems miserable? I don’t think any of us would say: “Oh, I want to be just like him or her!”
Now think about the person who attracts you and who you want to be around. It’s the person that’s full of life, who is happy and grateful, and who can always find kind words to say and share a smile. It’s the person with that contagious smile that radiates and instantly lifts your spirits, the type of person who is sure of themselves and who isn’t afraid to say “no.”
As individuals, we are unique and we have the ability to build a life filled with passion, purpose, happiness and vitality. By taking the goodness and strength that lies within us, we can become a positive magnet for others. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Health in 30*
Since the publication of Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 book called The Power of Positive Thinking, the world has been bombarded with a plethora of self-help books guaranteed to show us the way to happiness. But is there a down-side to these suggestions?
If we do as instructed, by a multitude of sources, to push away the negative, or bad thoughts and focus only on the positive, or good thoughts, how do we prepare for the bad times of reality?
Come with me, if you will, on a journey through the cluttered half-baked theories of my mind, but watch your step, there’s no liability insurance in here. If you trip into the corpus callosum, you’re on your own.
Part one of the half-baked journey begins with the extreme outcome of pure positive thinking. If I am truly thinking positively, then nothing at all could possibly go wrong, I have nothing to worry about, I am perfect just the way I am, and the world exists just so that I might gain pleasure from it.
If nothing could go wrong, why should I plan for a rainy day? My job will last forever, the roof will never leak, and my kids will remain perfectly healthy. There is only sunshine in my world.
If there is nothing to worry about, then I can count my life savings while walking down a dark alley without fear, my car will last forever- that banging under the hood means nothing and adds an interesting beat to the music playing on the radio, and I will never grow old. Throw away the botox; there are no wrinkles here.
If I am perfect just the way I am, why should I exercise to take off that extra ten pounds, why should I try to improve my mind with literature, the theater, or a higher degree. Why should I get off the couch?
If I buy into this extreme sport of pure positive thinking, why would I work like a dog to get ahead? Wouldn’t I be perfect enough for everything to be given to me?
Now for part two of the half-baked journey; are you still with me? We are getting really deep in the frontal lobes now.
If I remain in a positive thinking mode until I gain a serene, carefree state, does that mean my brain is unstimulated? And in turn, does that mean that the firing of neurons has diminished so much that if danger were to occur, I would not be able to act quickly enough for self-preservation? Would I react at all if I were a true positive thinker? What could happen if I stayed on the couch?
Let’s go back to the unstimulated idea. If I continue to not stimulate my brain, will my brain begin to deteriorate? After all, the old adage “Use it or Lose it” has been around longer than “Think Positively”. Let’s throw in another adage: Necessity is the Mother of Invention. That being said, if we have no necessity because we are positively thinking about everything and therefore need nothing new, why would we trouble ourselves to invent new things?
If I remain unstimulated for an extended period of time, what will happen to my mood? If there are no highs or lows, no release of adrenaline to handle excitement or danger, no need for the release of serotonin or dopamine to stimulate my brain, will these receptors be decommissioned as no longer needed? Will my mood sink into depression?
Now for the flip side of this saga.
What if I experienced continual negative thoughts? Would my life mirror the same lack of moving forward I found while hanging out on the couch with positive thinking? I may have more supplies stored in the basement with negative thinking and the door would be locked, but would my life be any more interesting? Would it be just as flat, but in a negative way?
If danger startled me off of the couch, would I be too paralyzed by negativity to react in time? If I think nothing good will ever happen, have I made this come true simply by closing the door to the possibility?
This leaves us with the good old fence straddlers.
Ordinarily, sitting on the fence is thought of as a bad thing. We are urged to choose a side, be decisive and stick with our convictions. What if I had a mixture of positive and negative thinking tempered with a good dose of reality thinking? Would my life attain a better balance necessary to survival? Would I have happy little neurons firing quickly and efficiently because they were getting a healthy dose of exercise and rest? If I use reality thinking with a mixture of both positive and negative thinking, will I be better prepared to weather hard times?
If I have a huge project due at work, would I be more effective if I used a dose of negative thinking that I don’t have enough time to complete this project, mixed in a little anxiety that if I don’t finish then my job may be finished, added some positive thinking that all I can do is my best, and stirred it around with reality thinking that I’ve proven myself by meeting hard deadlines in the past and have the ability to do so again. My project will most likely be completed on time because I have made this mixture of positive, negative, anxiety and reality work for me instead of against me. Too much positive thinking and I won’t push myself hard enough to make the deadline. Too much negative and I will give up before really trying.
The fence straddlers can enjoy a healthy mixture of both positive and negative thoughts, knowing each has its own value if kept in balance. And the view from the fence is not bad either.
Thank you for coming along on this trip through the half-baked theory region of my mind.
Now that I’ve shared some of my thoughts, feel free to share some of your own.
*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*