Work life balance, mindfulness and the ambiguous search for happiness….it’s all anyone talks about anymore these days. There’s tons of articles out there giving advice on these topics (some I’ve written as well), but sometimes acknowledging what makes you happy can be really simple.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine from medical school the other night. She reminded me of something we used to do for each during our third and fourth years of medical school, and I thought I’d share.
So third and fourth years of medical school are some of the most fun, yet also the most tiring and stressful. It’s not just the clinical rotations, but also the stress of figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life, and then applying for residency spots and traveling for interviews.
Trying to balance all that as a student can make you feel lost. Plus, the time commitment of medical school brings on this mundane day-to-day schedule: eat, sleep, work, repeat. This results in misery, feeling like you don’t have a life and dreaming about days of the future when you’ll be happy again and have the time to really enjoy yourself.
Sound familiar ?
Unfortunately, as all of us know, that feeling doesn’t really go away when you enter the real world. The stressors are the same, just at another level.
Something my friends and I started to do to help each other out was to send each other emails each night. The subject line was “Happiness QHS”. QHS is medical speak for “before bed”. We held each other accountable for these emails; if someone didn’t reply or do her part, there would be an immediate text or phone call to check in and see what was wrong.
So what exactly did we mean by “happiness QHS”? In the emails, the aim was to jot down the things that had made us happy that day, or brought a smile to our face.
Sometimes the things we wrote down were super basic:
“I love my minty toothpaste!”
“Hot cup of tea”
“went to taco bell”
The idea was to identify something positive in each day, no matter how mundane, how bad the day had been, or how “blah” you may feel about life. It was meant to force us to pay attention and look for the happy, especially because we held each other accountable for it each night.
It actually worked. The accountability and the simplicity of what we did really helped all of us. We paid more attention to the little things, and by sharing our happiness we were able to multiply its effect. Plus it strengthened our support system. During interviews and travels, we knew we had people to check in with and to lean on if we needed to.
Pick your version
We used emails because back then (ha) group text wasn’t so big of a thing (or maybe we were just behind the times). But, as you begin this new year, I encourage you to try something like this. Ultimately it’s the little things that make up our lives, and it’s so important to identify and appreciate them.
Find your people, or person, and establish a pattern where you are each accountable for checking in and for showing that you are making the effort to look for the happy in your everyday. Hopefully once you start, it’ll become easier until it’s just a natural thing that you do!
What are your thoughts on doing something like this? Share below!