Taking yourself lightly
Laughing at yourself can make practice and life much more satisfying.
Jeff Foxworthy cracks me up with his redneck stories! I look forward to hearing him perform February 27 at the upcoming SECO meeting in Atlanta.
Some of his recent ones you may not have heard:
If your Halloween pumpkin has more teeth than your wife . . . you may be a redneck.
If you think a “hot tub” is a stolen bathroom fixture . . . you may be a redneck.
If your junior/senior prom had a child-care facility . . . you may be a redneck.
If your wife has ever said, “Move this transmission so I can take a bath” . . . you may be a redneck.
If your toilet paper has numbers on it . . . you may be a redneck.
If you think the last line of the Star Spangled Banner is “Gentlemen, start your engines” . . . you may be a redneck.
Blessed are they
“Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused,” is the premise for which Foxworthy serves as a great example. Don’t take these words lightly. They contain a depth of wisdom important to your well being!
The longer I was in practice, the more convinced I became that a statement by C.W Metcalf is perhaps the chief secret to enjoying your practice: “Take your work seriously but yourself lightly.”
The ability to laugh at yourself can make practice, and your life, a whole lot more satisfying. And it usually solves problems better, also.
A few years ago, the University of Nebraska, because of its great football record, was being characterized by some as a football factory more than an institution of learning.
Nebraska’s governor could have jumped on his high horse and pontifically pronounced all of the university’s excellent educational programs. Instead he ably handled the situation with humor.
“Do you see that big “N” on the football stadium?” he asked the reporter who was questioning him regarding the matter. “Some people think it stands for `Nebraska.’ But we take education seriously here, and what it really stands for is ‘Nowledge.'”
I fear that the world has too often lost its ability to laugh at itself. We take ourselves too seriously, and we look for insults in every situation rather than humor.
“A sense of humor,” said some cynic, “is what makes you laugh at something that would make you mad if it happened to you.” Instead, we need to learn to laugh when it happens to us, rather than to others.
All of us have bad days that test our sanity. Mrs. Angie Oma, your first appointment, shows up at the office 20 minutes late, making you run behind all day. Making the situation worse, the second patient, Mrs. Rose Bengal, is a non-stop talker.
Then, Cy Clophoria comes in to tell you his red eye has become worse with the drops you prescribed. Mrs. Hal Lucination phones to tell you she can get her contact lenses cheaper elsewhere, so please cancel her order. Mrs. Ike Onometer insists on being seen by you to discuss the fact that her new frame hurts her nose.
That’s when the old ulcer starts to bleed, if you take it, or yourself, too seriously. Instead, be like the guy who joked about his problems by saying, “They told me to cheer up, things could be worse. So I did. Sure enough, things got worse.”
Act like a doctor? Not only is practice more personally satisfying when you don’t take yourself too seriously, but you relate better to patients.
“I like doctors like you who don’t act like they’re doctors,” was the compliment once paid to me by a security guard at a local hospital.
“I see lots of doctors here at the hospital,” he continued. “Some of ’em act like they’re a whole lot better than anyone else. They ought to realize that people would like ’em better if they didn’t act so biggety.”
Take your work seriously, but yourself lightly. OM
Jack Runninger, our consulting editor, lives in Rome, Ga. He’s a past editor of Optometric Management. You can reach him via e-mail at. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Boucher Communications, Inc. Feb 1999
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