Project Happy

5 Gratitudes

My husband and I like to watch TED Talks from time to time, you just need that bit of inspiration every now and again.  I don’t have the link but there was one on how practicing being grateful rewires your brain (hey I never said this was a medical blog) in a good way.  We decided that every night before we went to sleep, we would tell each other 3 things we were grateful for, no matter how bad the day.  Some nights it’s hard, but we do it, and we always fall asleep feeling mildly pleased with things.

I extended this into times when I’m feeling really really stressed or worried about something too.  Actually it was when I was trying to study, I’d be overcome by “this is unbelievably stupid”, “I’m going to fail”, “what kind of new mother DOES this?” thoughts, so I came up with a solution which I’d write down on a Post It.  Try it for yourself.


Negative thought:  “I can’t do this, I’m so overwhelmed”

Take 5 deep breaths.

Say 5 things you’re grateful for.

Solution: i.e. “Read one more line of the book, then go and make a cup of tea”.


It wont solve all your problems but it’s like a pressure valve.  I ended up with a giant stack of post its like these.  You don’t have to write down your 5 gratitudes, but it’s good to have the negative thought or feeling, and the solution you came up with for yourself.

Right now I’m grateful for:

1.  This laptop that I can blog anywhere from!
2.  My Fitbit which tracks my sleep, I think it’s fascinating.
3.  My ever-patient husband who quietly encourages me along.
4.  My advanced trainee who is basically who I want to be.  That rarely happens these days.
5.  The baby.  Oh lord the baby.  Hard as it is, no day is ever the same now.

Feel free to post your gratitudes!

Authenticity, shame, power, and vulnerability.

Or in a longer sentence, ‘two videos you should watch right now in the following order.

The first is a video about vulnerability that went viral a couple of years ago.  I’m now reading her books, and I think she’s amazing.

The Power of Vulnerability

Link for iPad users.

The second is one she followed up with about shame, and links into my previous post about learning how that you are enough in a world that tells you that you’re not.

Listening to Shame

Link for iPad users.

I may be just a little addicted to  These two are the ones I am loving right now, I cannot explain enough just how important her messages are.

Failure a thousand times over

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve failed at stuff in my life. The number is too high to count. I fail on a daily basis and the difference between me pre and post medicine is that now I realise just how important it is to fail. While I might get things wrong on a daily basis, while I need ongoing gentle correction in so many ways, it’s put into perspective by all the really sick people out there.

They’d love the opportunity to fail. They’d love the luxury of talking themselves out of a run. They’d love to have the right list of differentials for seizure. They wish they could eat till they felt sick or get a sunburn and beat themselves up over not wearing sunscreen. They’d love to fail an exam. They’d love to not feel like they were good enough but to take a deep breath and try anyway. Or even not try.

I used to be so hard on myself. So hard. I was never good enough. I was never enough. Never cool enough, thin enough, pretty enough. I wanted everyone to like me. And for a while I tried and for a while I thought I was succeeding, only to be cut down a thousand times over by someone who for whatever reason decided they didn’t like me. And in hindsight if you’d asked me what I had in common with them, the answer would have been nothing. But the problem with not liking yourself and investing your self worth in the opinion of others is that you lose yourself. You lose who you are. By becoming thin, pretty, and cool enough, your identity dissolves. Sure the crowd may like you, but who are the crowd and who are you? A faceless,shifting ideal.

I met a young woman a while ago at work. She was white blonde, fake tanned, thin, and dressed expensively. I would have thought she was cool once. She sat there and told me she starved herself and was getting her boobs done soon. That she went to the same clubs every week. She seemed so sad as she said it. I wanted to tell her that she didn’t need her boobs done, that she was a normal colour underneath that, that with her natural hair and skin, that she was enough. But that’s not my job. My job is to fix the medical problem. Which was unrelated.

When you fit right in, I don’t know who you are. I’m not sure you know who you are either. She seemed so sad.

We need to be brave enough to say that as we are, we are enough. With our kinked hair, landscape of skin, and dress sense governed by where we are, not what we read, with our own curious interests, we are enough.

And were I to ever meet you, I would accept you as you are, for who you are. Because you, as you are, are enough. Be brave enough to face it, and you’ll find out who you really are, and maybe the cool, thin, and pretty thing just won’t matter and wont hurt you anymore.

Back on the subject of failure – remember my Happiness Project?  It all fell apart with the start of a new rotation and my Mum coming to visit.  Last thing on my mind.  And where once I might have beat myself up, now I have to laugh.  I laugh at myself because how many thousands of projects have I started and never finished?  Too many to count.  And I have to feel grateful because so many people are stuck in some bed somewhere, attached to a drip and god knows what else, wishing that they too could print out a chart of resolutions and spectacularly fail in 3 days, laugh, then try again.

Happy March

So excited am I upon reading The Happiness Project, I decided to start my own. Coming up with twelve areas to improve my happiness and then creating action tasks for each was fun – I limited it to only three or four – except for the first one but not all of it’s daily.

I’ve always felt like I’ve had less energy than most people. Like there was some magic it genetic reason that people seemed able to do more than me, that I should just rest up and resign myself to the fact that I can physically do less than others. It’s only recently that I realised its not true. Interest and habit make up so much of who you are. My mother hates exercises and avoids doing anything physically uncomfortable. As a single parent her mantra has long been “I’m too tired”, and I realised that “too tired” is often code for “it hurts” or ” I’m scared”, “I cant face it” and a myriad of other things that have nothing to do with bing tired, but masquerades as it. In medicine when someone’s emotional pain is expressed through physical, we call it somatization. It seems a lot more than mere pain masquerades as the physical and unconsciously and through habit, I’ve learned my mothers attitudes.

There is no medical reason why I can’t do as much as anyone else. I’d like to have as much energy as everyone else seems to. It requires a change in attitude and a willingness to experience and live with the physically and personally uncomfortable – but if you can do it, then I can too.

March – More Energy.

    Go to bed at 9.30pm
    Get ready for bed after dinner/exercise
    Exercise 4x a week
    Eat well
    Fix outstanding health issues

I’ll rate how I did for the next month and share with you how I went. You might say that I’m not being specific enough, but I know to avoid fat and sugar, and I don’t really care about the type or intensity of exercise, just that I do it and get into the habit of doing it. The rest will follow.