I heard a great talk during Nurse's Week. Its theme was exceptional nursing performance and it focused on communication skills and self-care. A major pearl jumped out at me that I would like to speak to -- it was about happiness.
The speaker, an anthropologist by background, said that 50 percent of happiness is biologically derived. Yikes, I thought. A big part of us is programmed for delight and jubilation! She then added that only 10 percent of happiness is derived from life circumstances (i.e., having a nice house and car) while 40 percent emanates from intentional activities. My take-home message was this: We have to put a lot of effort into promoting our personal joy.
She also explained that for every one negative thought or event that occurs, you must have three positive ones to counter its deleterious effects. This got me thinking. If in one day you witness firsthand a patient being told that their cancer has recurred, a family member is short-tempered with you, and your three hours of overtime are not in your paycheck as expected, you need to engage in nine positive self-care strokes, which I am betting would not transpire in the 24 hours in question.
The need to care for ourselves in a more proactive fashion is a must. Just like we plan to get the kids off to school in a timely manner, give a thorough report off to the next shift, and plan dinner, we need to establish a daily self-care plan.
Knowing that nurses infamously proclaim, "But I don't have time!" consider this option: Three times a day, take one minute to affirm your personal and professional excellence. On your drive to work, at lunch, and on your drive home, purposefully ask yourself the following:
- In the morning, finish the sentence, "Today I am going to focus on my strength at..."
- At lunchtime reflect on, "This morning I was able to..."
- On your drive home ponder, "At work today, I felt good about..."
Give it a try just for a week. I'd love to hear your feedback!