4 ways to find the key to happiness in today’s clinical environment
May 3, 2022 By Dr. Erik Klein, DC and Dr. Dan Comeau, DC
Being a healthcare practitioner during this pandemic is certainly a challenge. Most people with guaranteed work, or established pensions don’t truly understand the challenges that are being faced by the self employed. They may be supportive, yet it is up to us to get through this with the most mental strength possible. How do you do this in the face of sometimes insurmountable challenges? Focus on happiness. No matter what government restrictions are applied, or what patients are afraid to show up to their appointments, this shouldn’t be relevant to your level of happiness.
Happiness is an emotion that is variable and unique to each person on the planet. What makes you happy might not be exactly what makes me happy and vice versa. I think we can agree that happiness is a state of being, and not some port of call that one arrives at. Boiled down to its base level, happiness is a combination of electrical and neurochemical signals interpreted by the brain. There are likely many different combinations of signals; all equating to the many different types of happiness. I posit that these signals come in two broad forms. The first form is externally generated signals, these are the things that people chase and do “to make themselves happy.” These signals tend to be fleeting and dependent on things that are outside of our control (more to come on this). They are unreliable at best. These are the signals we seek out so that we can make it to the “place” of happiness. The second form of signals are internally generated. These are a more abstract concept. These create happiness in the absence of an external stimulus. I believe that these signals spontaneously emerge after you begin to practice a collection of specific behaviors
Personality tests have become all the rage in order to evaluate how to communicate with people and determine how individuals will perform as a team. You have the Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, and DISC to name a few, however our favourite is the 1992 book by Gary Chapman “The 5 Love Languages.” This book is excellent because the concepts can apply to romantic partnerships, social relationships, AND business relationships. In a nutshell, Chapman writes that people are made happy or respond positively to one of five social cues: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gift-giving, or quality time.
Physical touch: cuddling, touching of the arm, hugs etc. Even in a business environment, this can be a good solid handshake or touch of the shoulder. Of course this is all post-pandemic.
Words of affirmation: Telling someone they did a good job. Compliment them on something they have done. A trick that I utilize is to write a small hand-written note just to say I appreciate something. If there isn’t anything remarkable, I will still write a note just to point out something even generic. The message isn’t the most important, but the time it takes to write a hand-written note will certainly be appreciated.
Acts of service: At home, doing the dishes in a timely manner and recognizing many of the small things that need to be done around the house. There is a saying, that the best employee is one who does trash jobs and doesn’t tell you.
Gift-giving: Another strategy I use with staff is one day a week I will go and leave a small chocolate on their desk. If they are there we will touch base, but if they are not, they know an effort is made and that time is recognized.
Quality time: Spending time together, team building, date nights with your spouse. It doesn’t have to be a week in Bora Bora, it can be as simple as a walk in the park.
Strategies such as love languages apply to your relationship with others, but these relationships can still result in great unhappiness in times of uncertainty. So, what do we need to practice to become personally happy?
#1: We must stop expending mental, physical and emotional energy on anything that is outside of our control.
We don’t control what happens, we only control our response to what happens. When something unplanned or unforeseen happens, we must spend no energy on wanting for it to be different, as that takes away the energy we have to work towards the solution.
Reducing social media consumption is a key way to reduce self-doubt, or access to information that simply doesn’t relate to you. Most people do understand that social media represents a glossed over brochure of people’s lives that simply aren’t accurate. But if you are having doubts yourself, or struggling, blocking out the pictures of the perfect families, or perfect practices can be difficult to do. Start with one day, then a weekend. Small steps can pay big dividends.
#2: We must remove all of the things and people in our life that we know bring us harm.
These might be toxic relationships that you feel you need to maintain due to family or emotional ties. These might be habits or activities that you partake in that you know are detrimental to your physical and mental wellbeing. Most clinic owners struggle with interpersonal drama in the office. If there is someone that you all determine is a virus, or an incredibly negative person, it is imperative that you make that change regardless of how “good a biller they are.” A virus will destroy your company, and you, faster than losing out on a few thousand dollars. As a clinician or therapist with a negative clinic owner, then make your move and get out. If you’re a great therapist, go where you are appreciated and treated well. Non-compete clauses rarely hold up in court. They are a practical deterrent, however it cannot stop you from providing a living for yourself.
#3: We must recognize and embrace our individuality.
There is no human that has been born in the history of the earth that is able to compete with you on being you. Authenticity breathes life into happiness. While being authentic, a person tends to stop thinking of what others think about them, and begins to focus on what they think of themselves. Which brings us to the next practice.
#4: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
We must not compare our present story to any other story. If we allow ourselves to stare longingly at other pastures, we begin to miss all of the things that make our own pasture beautiful. Bringing gratitude into our lives for the most mundane of events and items, and cultivating genuine pleasure by being present is a surefire mechanism for happiness. While personal development and goal-setting is important, expressing contentment with your situation and life, when you should, is your choice, and not for anyone else to decide.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all of the practices that bring one happiness, it is the short list of the things I’ve found most helpful. Even making a single positive change is bound to increase your happiness even 1% of the time. If you make several changes, you begin to stack the odds in your favor. If you practice them long enough, they start to become second nature. You actually become skilled in being happy, instead of just waiting to arrive at the destination of happiness.
After two years, it is now imperative to focus on happiness and use the tools that will work best for you. Your future self, and your future productivity will thank you.
DR. DANIEL COMEAU is an award-winning chiropractor whose career began in 2012. Dr. Comeau, who practices in Saint John, NB, is single-minded in his drive to seek results-oriented solutions in the treatment of his patients. This approach has allowed him to grow a practice at an accelerated rate and tap into many local, provincial and national sports organizations, and due to this, he has largely considered an inspiration to other chiropractors in the profession. To create balance to a hectic week, Dr. Dan likes to read about stoicism and apply it in his everyday life.
DR. ERIK KLEIN is a chiropractor and CEO of Town Health Solutions, a network focused on the growth and development of clinical excellence and entrepreneurship for manual therapists. For more information, please visit www.townhealthsolutions.com/franchising.
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