Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Laugh today
Did you laugh today? Not a chuckle, but a real good laugh that shook you. A side-splitter is good for you, makes you breathe differently, drops your blood pressure, and decreases your stress level. It also touches everyone else in the room. It can’t be a fake laugh or a mean one, one that is bile-filled and aimed at someone else. We are actually the best targets. Don’t get caught taking yourself too seriously. There is a ton to kid you about.
Our profession is a constant source of humor. You cannot make up the things that happen in the exam rooms, in surgery, and in our waiting areas. You could never even imagine it. Never. Things like the client who asks, “Doctor, how will I know when the diarrhea is over?” We deal with people, and people are funny. I have a comic friend who says, “Everybody funny, now you funny, too.”
Take the time to find the humor about your work. It is sad that I had to ask you, “Did you laugh today?” You wouldn’t ask someone, “Did you eat today? Did you drink? Did you sleep?” Laughing is almost as basic and is certainly as necessary. Our lives are too short, and they can be so fiercely hard. Our profession, as I have noted, is a “harsh mistress.” Some days there isn’t much to laugh about. Still, I encourage you to find it. For example, how about those poorly punctuated classified ads that say, “Free to good home—pit bull will eat anything loves children” or “Free to good home—Doberman neutered just like one of the family.”
Laughter and humor soften our lives. They make it easier for a second and let us step away for a time and get another perspective. In a recent poll, the number one common trait that people said they looked for in a mate was “a sense of humor.”
By nature, veterinarians are a serious lot. We have to be. We deal with very trying and difficult situations routinely. We are tested professionally, emotionally, and in many other areas every day by sick animals, clients, and staff. Breathe! They can’t eat you! You are going to make it until the last client checks out.
Stop taking yourself so seriously. Laugh today. Laugh at yourself, laugh with your family, laugh with your staff. Take a break in the heat of battle. Trust me. I am a doctor. It won’t hurt a bit.
See you next week, Kev