I would say that intentionally practicing gratitude is the number one thing that has significantly changed my life since leaving medicine. Waking up each day and choosing to look at the good, to express appreciation for the many amazing things in my life has completely changed my outlook on how I approach each day.
You know what practicing gratitude does, it triggers your brain to find the hidden meaning and good in everything. It actually changes the wiring in your brain to focus on, and see more positivity than negativity. “Through the power of gratitude, you can wire your brain to be optimistic and compassionate, making you feel good. The more you look, the more you can find to be grateful for.” (Read more here)
Gratitude, along with changing how I talk to myself (having a better sense of resilience and self-fortitude) has made all the difference in the world.
Instead of telling myself “you can’t do this, or this is hard.” I switch to “look at how far you have come, all that you have to be grateful for, and remember that if you can do X…Y…Z (med school, lose weight, etc), you are adaptable enough to handle whatever comes your way.”
I wake up every morning and send a voice note to one of my good friends with my gratitudes for the day. We aren’t always consistent but it has definitely brought us closer, made us both appreciate the lives we lead more, and helps us to get out of ruts by having accountability.
So today, think of 3 things that you are grateful for, even if its small things like your coffee, that you caught your train on time, or that you bumped into a friend.
(For those who don’t know… I am doing “30 days to 30” and sharing life lessons and stories in order to celebrate my birthday—hoping to break stigmas and stereotypes about what 30 means and looks like)