Monday, February 25, 2008

On Connecting and Committing

My recent blog post on the book "Younger Next Year" included Harry's 7 rules for more successful living and aging. The last one was "connect and commit". This rule deals with the question: "What is your passion", but it deals with a considerably more complex, slippery issue than that. I've thought a lot about myself and how I "connect and commit" and have to admit that I often come up short.

One of the essential ingredients of a full and happy life is the energy that we give to others as we make connections in our day to day lives. I see this so vividly in my office practice. On days when I feel good and have a patient that I succeed at making a connection with, I feel more alive, better physically and emotionally, and more certain that I am where I should be and doing what I should do. On the contrary, when I feel stressed and rushed, annoyed at a difficult patient, impatiently hold the door knob signalling that I need to move on to the next patient, I feel less alive and more easily discouraged by the inevitable challenges of the day.

On the the one hand, finding a favorite charity and giving of self and resources is extraordinarily rewarding but, on the other hand, simply connecting and committing in our everyday activities seems just as important, maybe even more so. It begins to reflect what we are really about, rather than allowing us to rise to that "platform" of our "passion", then leave it to return to our everyday world.

The idea is that we consciously aspire to "care" about our interactions with colleagues as well as casual acquaintances. Asking others simple questions to convey an interest in their lives is one example, compared to merely saying "hi" and walking on by. Making a conscious effort to call siblings, children, parents, and friends is another example, rather than just rushing home to read, workout, watch evening TV or fix dinner. Connecting and commiting can become a habit, part of one's way of life.

I tried this out the other day during my teaching day in the clinic. Normally, this is a challenge for me. I sit there for several hours and have to concentrate on the stories the residents relate to me about the patients, approve their treatment plans, ask the right questions to get to the meat of the matter, etc. It is tiring and easy to get annoyed if someone doesn't have the history well in hand or have a logical, correct, or appropriate treatment plan ready. But, on this day, I made a conscious effort to compliment good history telling, ask the residents something about themselves, and to listen more actively. To connect with them and commit to the job for that time slot.

I left this experiment with the conclusion that I could, by an act of will, do a better job of "connecting and committing" in the areas of my job that don't come naturally for me, or that I don't enjoy quite as much. I left that half day session a happier (and, I think, younger) person!

Now, I need to go home and connect and commit with the family!

Your comments are welcome...

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