56. The best medicine.

A physician friend of mine stopped by to tell me that the last two blogs on The Habit of Loving What You Do had caused him to “stand in front of the mirror and take a long, hard look at myself.”

It seems that practicing medicine had somehow lost its allure and he frequently found himself “dragging my butt out of bed in the morning and going to work just because I have to.”

He explained he felt trapped by the circumstances of his life. He has a family, a mortgage on his home, another mortgage on a cabin, has kids preparing for college and has been able to provide all of this from his practice.  But somehow he was no longer doing what he loved.

He talked at great length about how tired he was of the constant political interference from the healthcare system, the relentless pressure to see more and more patients and just the practice of medicine itself had turned him off from what had been a strong passion and commitment to his profession.

Several times over the past few years he had explored other opportunities but nothing seemed to offer the level of income that he and his family had grown accustomed to and he had resigned himself to another 15 years of getting up each morning and going to a place that no longer offered any appeal.

With a broad smile he told me he has been reading both my blogs each week in the hopes that at some point I would write something that actually made sense and that finally our discussion regarding The Habit of Loving What You Do had served as the pay-off for him having to suffer through my ramblings week after week.

After reading last week’s blog he truly had stood in front of the mirror and gazed at his reflection asking himself what had changed within him because, as he put it, the blogs clearly highlighted that his job had really not changed much: there has always been political interference, there always was pressure to see more patients and the practice of medicine is still the practice of medicine.

Nothing had changed therefore he concluded he must have changed.

And so standing in front of that mirror he made a promise to himself that while he would still explore other opportunities, he would also commit to rediscovering and rekindling the passion and sense of accomplishment that had been his to enjoy for so many years.

He promised he would find inspiration and meaningfulness in everything he did and would commit himself to becoming an even better, more knowledgeable and more patient doctor than he is today.

Those two blogs pointed out to him “what I always knew but refused to accept,” that his dislike and disinterest in his profession was entirely of his making and that in order to regain his passion he simply needed to change his perspective.

The day before we met for coffee had been, he said, the first day in several years when he actually looked forward to getting out of bed and going to work and he came home at the end of the day both exhausted and exhilarated – a delightful combination of emotions.

The Habit of Loving What You Do – use it or abuse it each day.

The choice is yours.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure.

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55. Nursing meaningfulness into our lives.

Jen called earlier this week to chat about how she believes her life is blessed because she has spent her entire career doing the job that she loves.

In talking to Jen it became apparent that she is one among many thousands of dedicated nurses who give selflessly of themselves every day in their quest to make lives more comfortable, healthier and less painful and sometimes just to show those suffering they are in the presence of people who care.

Jen also explained that while many of her colleagues share her views, there is an equal or greater number of nurses who don’t.

In the 28 years since first proudly reporting for duty Jen has never worked a shift she did not love. That’s not to say that many of those shifts were not filled with sadness, tragedy and heartbreak but rather that she had gone to work each day with a sense of passion and commitment that can only come from knowing there is no greater calling in the world than helping others’.

She pays no attention to the media and the innumerable accounts of how broken our system is or the criticisms leveled against long queues and waiting times.

She acknowledges these are all real problems and distances herself from becoming involved in these discussions because, as she explained to me, “All I can do is put my energy and focus on helping those in my care.”

Many of her colleagues spend much of their at-work time complaining about the hours, the staff shortages, the challenges of the job and the lack of respect and gratitude shown them by ungrateful patients.

They watch the clock and wait impatiently for their shifts to end.

These colleagues work extremely hard, she explained, but they deprive themselves of the joy of the job by virtue of their constant complaining.

Like these colleagues, Jen has had many, many times when she felt exhausted and stressed and frustrated and angry and none of these things have ever put the slightest dent in her love for her chosen career.

She considers each opportunity to serve a blessing and feels honored that she is afforded the privilege of attending to those in need. She seeks, and finds deep meaningfulness in everything she does and by doing so the anger and frustration soon fade from memory.

This delightful lady told me that those colleagues who “whine all the time” are “looking through the wrong end of the lens.” She said nothing has changed in 28 years; patients are still patients, nursing the sick is still nursing the sick and doctors still believe they are gods. She pointed out that a job cannot give you meaningfulness; you have to find it in the job.

She explained that every job is meaningful and seeing the glass half-full is simply a function of observing it through one end of the lens; seeing it as half empty is the result of looking at it through the other.

Jen told me the Habit of Loving What You Do is possibly the greatest gift we can ever give ourselves and asked me to share her message with you.

Thank you Jen. You have demonstrated that The Habit of Loving What You Do truly is a wonderful gift and by using the gift to its maximum capacity you are a role model for us all.

If I am ever admitted to a hospital I know which nurse I am going to ask for.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

54. You can love it even if you don’t like it.

Somebody once said that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life.

Over the past few weeks I have met with a surprising number of people who have told me how much they dislike their jobs and how they are desperately seeking employment elsewhere.

I would like today to introduce a new habit – one that we will be discussing over the next three weeks.

This new habit is called The Habit of Loving What You Do and is one that, through our God given Power of Choice grants each of us the right to accept or like or love or tolerate or dislike or hate everything we do.

There is an enormous difference between doing what we love and loving what we do.

We are not all so blessed that we spend each waking moment doing the very things that we love each and every day.

But even if we aren’t doing what we love we can certainly love what we do.

Some of those folks I mentioned earlier who told me that they “hate” their jobs fail to realize the degree of toxicity they are bringing into their own lives and, no doubt, the lives of those they interact with.

Recent research on the topic of motivation strongly suggests that the more meaningful the job at hand the higher the level of commitment there is to it and the greater the sense of motivation within those doing that work.

The challenge I see in concluding that motivation comes from doing meaningful work suggests strongly that it is the work itself that is meaningful and that motivation is thereby granted to those doing said work.

I don’t see it that way. Work is work. It is neither meaningful nor mindless. Those descriptors are nothing more than the labels placed upon the work by those doing it.

Last week I wrote about a cleaning lady at one of our local hospitals who I was fortunate enough to chat with briefly during a recent visit.  

This lady’s job is to be part of the team of cleaners who work extremely hard at keeping every part of that hospital in a sanitary and clean state. Not an easy task.

She told me how much she loved what she did. She explained to me felt that that her job is the single most important job in the entire facility and that she saves lives every day by her efforts at keeping the hospital clean and thus preventing the potential for the spreading of disease.

This lady truly understood The Habit of Loving What You Do.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where circumstances require us to do things we don’t love to do. But there are no circumstances that can prevent us from loving everything that we do.

The Habit of Loving What You Do is a habit that once adopted, enables us to find the absolute positive in everything we do and find enjoyment and pleasure and fulfillment and meaningfulness in what we are doing while at the same time the search continues to find what we love.

The cleaning lady taught me a lesson I will cherish for the rest of my life. Since meeting her I have passed on her story each time I have had occasion to talk with somebody who has complained about the job they’re in.

I am not for a moment suggesting that anybody remain in a job they do not wish to remain in. I’m simply stating that until such time as they can leave that job and move on to something else they will benefit mightily from loving what they are doing and, in so doing, save themselves from vast amounts of stress and discomfort.

The Habit of Loving What You Do will allow all those who adopt it to spend far more of their time loving and enjoying their lives which – and I’m sure you will agree – beats the heck out of being miserable.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

53. Happy New Reunion.

The lady who called me on Monday did not want to tell me her name but she did want to tell me her story.

She told me that many years ago, “probably before you were born, young man,” she, her parents and sister had moved to Canada from their native Poland.

Some 10 years later when she and her sister were in their early 20s their parents passed away within six months of each other and the two of them had had a major falling out while dealing with their parent’s estate.

Over the many years that have passed since that time they have had no contact with each other than exchanging obligatory Christmas cards. Their only knowledge of what was happening in each other’s lives was brought to them by their children and grandchildren.

My lady caller told me she has three children and seven grandchildren and one of her grandchildren had brought her a copy of the blog I wrote last week on the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365.

She told me that the blog caused her to think of the silliness of living in the same city as her only sibling and having no contact with her in almost 50 years.

She explained it was her husband who had insisted their children get to know their cousins and he, along with her brother-in-law , took it upon themselves to ensure the cousins spent time together while growing up. Her husband had long given up his attempts to encourage her to reconcile with her sister.

She decided to try the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 to see what would happen. Her son provided her sister’s phone number and she called, secretly hoping no one answered.

She had decided to let the phone ring five times before she would hang up. After the fourth ring the phone was picked up and a female voice – one she had not heard in many, many years, said “hello.”

She overcame her first impulse to hang up the phone and found herself explaining to her sister that rather than merely exchanging annual Christmas cards it would be nice to have a brief conversation.

She could feel the emotion in her throat as these words came out of the mouth and, on the other end of the phone, she heard her sister gently sobbing while telling her that for years she had wanted to pick up the phone but feared that she would be rejected.

What began as an intended two minute conversation lasted more than two hours and ended with a lunch date this past Friday that went on for more than four hours and was filled with laughter, tears and promises to make up for all those lost years.

She told her sister about the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 and they had both agreed to adopt this as a way of life because, after all, it was this habit that provided the impetus for their long overdue reunion.

Then she asked me a question I was completely unprepared for.

She asked how I was bringing the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 into my own life.

I didn’t have a good answer for her and told her I would come up with one very soon.

And I’m working on that right now.

Care to join me?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours has its very own website. Please visit us at  www.lifesinksorsoars.com  and let me know what you think.

P.S. My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure

52. A wonderful way to live.

Edna called me to point out that the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 is not exactly an original thought.

She told me when Ivor proposed to her, they decided to get married as close as possible to Christmas as that was their favorite time of the year.

“People are always in a good mood and are always good to each other and are always doing kind deeds for each other at Christmas time so we decided that would be the perfect time for us to get married.”

That was in 1946.

On Christmas day of that year, as they were walking home from a family dinner, they began discussing what life would be like if the Christmas spirit was present all year long. They decided that evening they would live their lives as if indeed each day belonged to the Christmas season.

They pledged to each other that no matter what personal challenges or struggles they were facing in their own lives, they would greet each day with a warm smile which they would pass on to everyone they met.

They decided that while they could not make others adopt the Christmas spirit every day of the year, they would become such good role models it would be difficult for those around them not to.

They began by helping those in need in their community. In the winter they shovelled snow from the sidewalks of their elderly neighbors and in the summer, they cut their grass.

They volunteered at the local hospital, at their church and anywhere else where they felt they could make a difference.

They spent many hours helping newcomers to the neighborhood – mostly Polish immigrants – to speak, read and write in English. They gave freely of their time and resources to local charities and were always there as a support system for friends and neighbors in crisis.

They did all this while juggling careers as school teachers and raising three children.

They instilled the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 into each of their kids at an early age and by the time the children entered their teens, they were as enthusiastic about performing regular random acts of kindness as their parents.

Edna told me that over the years she and Ivor helped hundreds of people and yet none of these folks benefited nearly as much as the two of them.

She told me the sheer joy that comes from simple acts that bring smiles to the faces of others is a feeling like no other.

She explained they both felt their lives have been blessed by having had the opportunity to serve others and by seeing their three children proudly do the same.

While not having much materially, they felt they were the richest couple in the world.

Ivor passed away in 2001 after 55 years of “the most wonderful marriage anyone could ever imagine,” and now, at 87, her life is filled by frequent visits from those many people whose lives she and Ivor helped over the years and who have since become her “huge extended family.”

Before she ended the conversation Edna told me that the Habit of Christmas Spirit 365 is not only the greatest gift you can bring to the world but the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

An old saying tells us that “we are never so tall as when we bend down to help another” and the story of Edna and Ivor is indeed the story of two giants.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S. Happy New Year.