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New years thoughts

My job is to fix things. Success in my profession is based on the ability to surgically reconstruct abnormal blood flow. Yet the longer I do this job, the more I realize that my success as a physician, as a healer, is predicated on far more than technical prowess.

We all want to be well. We say it without thinking because it is an essential human truth. Sometimes though when I ask someone to define what it is to be well, it’s not so easy. What is wellness? Is it the same as health? One part of being well may be to have the function of that leg, or to not be in pain. Another part might be to be happy. Surgery may save the limb or often even the life. Medicines may cure the infection or the treat the ailment. No doubt though, that we doctors can create a running machine that is still not well. Stress and addictions threaten us and are our health’s undoing. Our most common reasons for behaviors we know are not healthy (smoking, over-eating, lack of exercise) are boredom, anxiety, habit and stress. These are not things we associate with happiness. How do we overcome this? We can’t open a medical compendium and find the cure for stress. There is not a magic pill for that. It can only be a self-prescribed and self-administered concoction (for me: 2 cup of a good run, 1/2 cup of a country song or a sunset, 1 cup of that special smile from the husband). I continue to search for the keys to help unlock our belief in ourselves as masters of our own destinies. Individual human determination has infinite potential. I have seen it. I know that it exists in every person. I believe that it starts with willingness to try.

So in this new year, I ask you to try something. Make a commitment to yourself to go out and get to that place you want to be. Reach for that person you’d be happiest being. Resolve to make the change that will put you in your best health. Strive. Free yourself from that thing, that fear, that holds you back from achieving your highest potential. Sing. Laugh so hard you cry. Write. Dance. Learn. Become a friend. Lend a hand. Breathe deeply in the great outdoors. Plant a garden. Travel, by plane or car, or in an armchair. Move your body. Cook. Hug. Give. Wellness is function, but it is also happiness, balance, peace in mind/spirit, freedom, acceptance and understanding, optimism, compassion, and strength.

Be well.

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