I am in traffic, my patient is in the back, quiet, possibly hungry, possibly incontinent, but sick of car rides. I round the corner down the hill from the hospital and am greeted by a coagulation of vehicles parked on the road. Briefly I think construction, next I think accident, then I look at the clock. Its 4:45, rush hour time. Boy oh boy…
I immediately realize the wait that my patient and I have ahead of us and I round house kick a life size Ken Doll (or Barbie, gender is not pertinent) in my head. I hate traffic, my patient hates traffic (he let me know), and I am supposed to be off in 15 minutes.
At this point I am at a crossroads in my head. I can choose to accept my situation, sit in it, enjoy it, live it, or I can resist, become angry, and suffer.
The decision is easy. I choose to be in joy. So I sit down, and “go to my happy place” just like Happy Gilmore. And guess what? SUCCESS! Some might even say smashing success. But sadly, after about 7 minutes and 30 seconds after we hit the traffic I am back to realizing we’ve only moved 100 yards, and visualizing an anthropomorphized time clock sticking its tongue out and running away.
I have to be able to return to joy, but how?
Well, there are many ways. But I currently have 2 strategies:
- Negative visualization: this topic requires a unique post, but I will give a summary. Simply ask, how could this situation be worse? In this example, it would be infinitely worse if my patient went into cardiac arrest or if another car hit me, or both at the same time. For those of you prone to panic attacks, this may or may not be a good way to inoculate yourself to confronting your fears. Give it try, or don’t, all I know is it works well for me. Once I go through enough scenarios, simply sitting in my van chatting with the patient and jamming to music seems like nirvana.
- Do something unexpectedly kind for someone else. In this example I could play special music for my patient, or even better I could send a gratuitous compliment via text (don’t text and drive) to a friend. Or, I could combine the two and call a friend on speaker (lets say on their birthday) and sing happy birthday to them with my patient. These are just ideas, but I know for a fact, doing something abnormally nice for someone else brings me out of my funk.
Give these a try and let me know any tips you have @happieheads on Twitter and Instagram!
P.S. How come Barbie doesn’t have a last name? My guess is she had so many suitors begging to tag her with their surnames that she decided it would be better to reject the androcentric culture she was raised in and accept the generic and often lonely title of “Barbie” than to be crushed under the oppressive hand of narcissistic males with shoulder tattoos and Nordic haircuts.