Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Doctor's Advice

I read this yesterday in my sister-in-law's family letter and I liked it so much I thought I'd share it. Even though it's the advice of a doctor given to a class graduating from med-school, I think the advice can be applied to moms and dads, writers, teachers...anyone really.

This is a quote from my sister-in-law:

The main speaker was funny and articulate and was very easy to listen to.  His advice to the Graduates. His name was Doctor Emanuel.

1. Plan you life so that when you turn 75 you will have done the important things
2. Don't be a schmuck. Treat your patients with sympathy.
3. Don't be a wimp.  Be courageous
4. Don't leave your patients with questions.  It causes anxiety.  Do everything you can to give them the answers they need.
5. Don't worry about your student debt.  Don't do things for money.

And this is my take on it:

1. Live to do important things--things that have impact. This is hard because sometimes we never see the results of the things we do and say. We raise and love our children, never knowing if they hear they things we've tried to teach them. We write books and even if they sell, we never really know if they're read...or loved.
A friend recently posted the question on Facebook--what's more important--learning or achievement? At first, I thought learning, because it stays with you. It can't be taken away--as opposed to achievement. Someone is always going to build a better, faster, spaceship than you. But then I thought maybe achievement if it serves others. Learning--unless it's applied to make the world a better place--can only serve ourselves. It's like a book in your head--it doesn't serve anyone there. Achievement can clothe, feed, teach, heal. But really, we need both. First the learning and then the achievement, but both should always be about more than serving ourselves.

2. Don't be a schmuck. Be sympathetic. This is basically the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Part of this is about remembering what it feels like when you were young, hungry, unsure, scared, nervous and doing your best to help others who might be where you once were.

3. Don't be a wimp. Be courageous. As an introvert, this is a hard one. When I first published my first book, Stealing Mercy, I had thought that maybe a few of my friends would buy it and read it. And they did. And I was happy with that. And then, feeling altruistic, I made it free. I went to bed one night and the next morning it was #30 overall in the Amazon store. By the end of the next day, it was #1 and being downloading by the thousands each hour. It was so terrifying, my husband came home and took me to Disneyland to distract me. It spent 5 months on the top 100 free list. At times, when the reviews were less than glowing, I felt as if I'd given the world a gift and the world used cleats to stomp all over it. Eventually, I grew immune and even embraced the feedback, calling it a lesson. I once heard a speaker say that a book inside your head serves no one. When I think of my writing as a ministry, I'm at peace. When I consider it a business, I fall into a comparison trap and I'm frustrated. I simply can't go there.

4. Provide answers. If you can. I see this as simply being an open book. Abandon any hidden agendas. In this day and age, it's nearly impossible to keep a secret, so why try?

5. Don't do things for money. This is hard. We all need money to buy our food, provide shelter, wear clothes, receive an education, get books and watch movies...and the more money we have, the more stuff we can have and the more people we can help. There's a balance, and we all need to find our feet and decide how we're going travel this tight-wire we call life.

I don't think my life will end at 75. At 97, my dad is healthy, although stronger mentally than he is physically. I hope that at 75 I won't feel like my opportunity to do something important is diminished in anyway, because I truly believe we all have opportunities to do important things everyday.

Things like practicing kindness, developing and using our talents, encouraging and tutoring those younger and not as far along the path, being courageous, providing answers, and being generous. Because we never know when or where our paths will end.

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