How Can Surgery & Medical Residents Be Happy?

What’s going on, you guys? Hey, so I had this idea in the morning in the shower. Why does that happen? When you have ideas in the shower? I don’t know. I had this idea in the shower that…to have a book club for general surgery residents. And it’s not the type of book club you’re thinking of where you go over papers and shit like that and talk about medicine, but when I was in residency, obviously, you’re busy. You’re reading textbooks and medical journals and all that stuff, but you don’t really have a lot of time to read other books. And I didn’t read anything else when I was a resident, and actually, I was a resident when…2004-2010.

Just so happened the housing market crashed, and I didn’t even pay attention. I had no idea why it happened and all that stuff, and so when I got out, I was like, “What the hell happened? Why is this…?”

Of course, I bought a house in 2005. And it was worth…I bought it for $130,000. That was in Detroit, and it was worth $50,000 or $40,000 in 2010 when I got out.

I started reading a lot about what was going on and all that stuff and reading other books and, of course, we have personality disorders as surgeons and all that stuff. So I had to do a lot of self-help to figure out what the fuck was wrong with me.

So, anyway, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to have these short videos and explain some of the books. Just do a quick review for people that, if you’re really busy in your surgery residency, you can get, actually, some of this great knowledge from these books without actually having to read the whole thing.

So, anyway, today I am talking about my favorite, well, one of my two favorite books. And it is when I was three years out of residency working. Was not happy with my job. I was really pissed off. I was…I did all this work. I put in 20 years of work and really just did not see the results I wanted, and I was at a point where I had to decide what I was gonna do. And, basically, I had to quit my job and get another job. I was really pissed off about it, so I read this book called The Happiness Advantage. I can’t remember who wrote it, but anyway, I’ll put a link in the video in the thing below here.

Anyway, The Happiness Advantage was this guy. He was, I think, a Harvard or Yale professor. I think psychiatry or psychologist or something like that. Anyway, he did a study on these…the Harvard students and who did better in class. And he found out that, essentially, through a real scientific study, that the students that were happy first were doing better on their tests and in their classes and overall. And so, basically what happens is we – especially us medical people – we have these goals. And we have these checkpoints, and we always see this checkpoint as the horizon when we’re gonna be happy.

And we’re like, “Okay, well, once I reach that, once I take step one, I’ll be happy. Once I take step two, then I can be happy. But until then, I have to be miserable.” All right, this is what I did is I made myself miserable. And I was torturing myself to make myself study in order to take that test and then be happy. And I was like, “Oh, once I finish medical school, I’ll be a doctor. I’ll be happy.” Then you get into your residency you’re like, “Well, once I finish an intern year, I’ll be happy.” And it just keeps going, and you keep pushing the happiness off into the horizon.

What he found was that you first have to be happy inside. Once you do that, you actually improve your performance, which then that got me interested because, as a surgeon, you wanna do the best you can do all the time. You wanna be better than everybody, right? And so that really interested me, and so I thought, “Okay, well, if my job requires me to be happy to do a good job, that’s what I need to do.” So that was really a turning point for me, and I think this is very important and very relevant to surgery in general because a lot of people in surgery are not very happy. And they’re pissed off all the time because we work a lot, and there’s a lot of bad shit that happens. And you can really let it get to you, and so I see a lot of folks just miserable in their job. But they can’t get out of it, and I feel like they are doing the same thing I was doing but just over a prolonged period, for 20, 30 years. And they’re just pushing the happiness off until whenever. Maybe at this point it’s retirement, but it’s really important to first decide to be happy. And then your performance will improve.

There’s a lot of reasonable things to be happy about that, right? Improving your performance, but there’s no one thing that’s gonna make you happy for long-term. If you buy a new car, it’s gonna wear off eventually unless you buy maybe a GT-3 or something like that. Maybe that…No, I’m just kidding. Even the GT-3 will probably…You’ll probably get bored of a GT-3 at some point. I don’t know. Maybe you won’t. I don’t think I would.

Anyway, I hope you get my point. And I wanna keep these videos short so you have time to watch them in residency, and the next video I’m gonna talk about is my second favorite book, which is The Power of Habit. And that really dovetails nicely with this because these thoughts and emotions and feelings we have of being happy or being sad or being pissed off all the time are really habits. And they’re brain pathways that we develop, and if we are always triggering a bad emotion, right? An angry emotion. Then our brain thinks that that’s what we’re supposed to do, so we keep doing that. Anyway, I’ll talk about that in the next one.

Anyway, Happy American Day, bitches! I’ll talk to you next time. See you.

To learn how I went from 1.7 GPA to straight A’s in 30 days, check out my online study course: