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Dear Doctor, are you happy in life?

M3 India Newsdesk Dec 03, 2019

Dr. YK Amdekar advises on how doctors should focus on happiness as an attribute that can be cultivated rather than be derived from professional success. He notes that happiness in your life should stem from the good work that you do and the fulfilment and personal satisfaction that comes with it.

Life is a journey and not a destination

Each journey begins with a dream. When your journey as a doctor begins, you definitely dream of your future life. This is the time to know what you intend to achieve out of your life, very purpose of life. You need to set priorities, decide what road to take to reach your destination and assess whether it is reachable. After all, life is how you perceive it to be!

Life is best for those who are happy, and so enjoy; difficult for those who analyse, and so unhappy; worst for those who criticise, and so frustrated. Life lived for others is a life lived well.

Your purpose in life as a doctor

The fact that one exists does not make life worth! What is the measure of worth? Is it success or happiness or both? Both may not go together. Success is when you get by any means what you desire, while happiness is knowing what you want and getting what you want. Success is what others think about you while happiness is what you perceive.

Robin Sharma in his novel 'The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari' defines success as an unintended side effect of an act done for anyone other than yourself. Such success is most difficult and rarely achieved in life. However success lies in happiness and happiness in turn promotes success. A happy person is not the one who has everything but the one who makes the best out of whatever he has. So, appreciate what you have and be happy; try to improve without competing with others, otherwise the pursuit of happiness itself becomes the cause of unhappiness.

The three phases in the journey of life

Generally, the journey of life evolves and creates new challenges from early age through middle to old age. When we are young, we dream, in the middle age we try to achieve our dreams, and in our old age we introspect what better could have been done that we lost precious time and opportunities. When we begin, we have time and energy but no money, in the middle age we have energy and money but no time, and finally in the end, we have time and money but no energy. It is clear we need to strike a balance in life. When young and successful, you lose our health to collect wealth and when you are old, you lose wealth to regain health. Money is required but it also often brings in problems. Therefore, a journey with happiness is better than one with success.

Phases of medical practice

To begin with it is the phase of aspiration. Initially, there is wishful thinking of scientific, ethical and rational practice but waiting for patients to come makes one get restless and stressed. Slowly there is a drift from aspiration to compulsion leading to monetary pursuit that brings in success with increasing volume in practice. It appears to be the end of a stressful life with happiness forever. Life begins to revolve around practice and money with increasing greed. It results in burning-out with deteriorating quality of practice, health and family – all at a time. There exists work-life imbalance with additional cost to health. This is the phase of success without happiness. But, habits die hard and so life continues the same way thereafter as it is too late to change.

Be responsible for happiness in your own life

The purpose of life is happiness more than mere success. The road to life twists and turns and so we need to turn rejection into an opportunity. Stanford University in the USA was born out of such rejection. Mr. and Mrs. Stanford were on vacation in Boston and suddenly thought of donating all their assets to Mr. Stanford's alma-mater – Harvard University. It was their last day in Boston and they still decided to see the dean if possible. They had no appointment but were ready to wait through the day in case the dean would have time to see them.

The dean’s secretary informed him about the old couple ready to wait until evening and go away if the dean had no time. So, the dean decided to see them when they offered all their assets to the institution. Looking at the old couple in informal vacation attire, the dean thought they would probably offer a few dollars and so thanked them without accepting their offer. Mr. Stanford was dejected and as they walked out, his wife said to him, “Why should we not start a university and compete with Harvard?”

That is how today, Stanford University stands as one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Life should be like a tennis game – you serve well, then return well but don’t forget the game starts with love-all. Life is like a piano where melodies arise from the use of both black and white keys. Similarly life also has ups and downs and you need to be brave throughout to be happy.

However, don’t forget life is also like a bicycle – if you stand still, you fall. So one must try to move forward in life. Avoid the one letter word “I” and instead use the two-letter word “WE”, overcome the three-letter word “EGO” because its outer edge cuts populartity and inner edge- purity, and instead use four-letter word “LOVE”. Learn to 'give more than take'; it comes back to you in plenty.

Lastly, patience and silence are two great virtues in life. Patience makes you mentally strong, while silence makes you emotionally strong.

How to achieve happiness

Happiness resides in you– search for it. Be grateful for what you have, it will make you happy. Motivate yourself to work with passion and joy– you will enjoy it. Once you are motivated, habits will sustain your happiness. You must develop an attitude to achieve happiness. After all, attitude is what takes you to higher altitudes. Share your happiness with others, spread happiness wherever you go and not whenever you go. Some people make you happy when they come, others when they leave. Happiness promotes health so that you can enjoy life.

Strive hard to be excellent and rational in your practice. Also, passion and joy in practice makes it possible to bring happiness. You must enjoy life– don’t forget life has an expiry date. Growing old is natural but growing up is optional. Aging is the only way to live longer. Remember that the tragedy of life is not death but what you did not do when alive. Life is a long journey. Take care of yourself so that you can die young as late as possible!


Disclaimer- The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of M3 India.

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