Finally, researchers have found that happiness is more likely achieved by pursuing frequent positive emotions rather than intense positive emotions. Many of us search for single intense emotional experiences (the winning of a gold medal) in the pursuit of happiness, but researchers found that the frequency of positive emotions are much more important than the intensity of positive emotions.
So maybe, as physicians in pursuit of happiness, we are going about this pursuit all wrong, with resultant depression, dissatisfaction, and burnout. We can’t change the Declaration of Independence or the American psyche, but we can change how we perceive that pursuit.
Happiness is not a goal to be achieved but a state of mind to be savored. Immersing ourselves in our daily life, we should be outwardly focused on our colleagues and our patients. If we take this approach, there is no other profession better suited to actually achieving sustained happiness. TH
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2. Shanafelt TD, Hasan O, Dyrbye LN, et al. Changes in burnout and satisfaction with work-life balance in physicians and the general US working population between 2011 and 2014. Mayo Clin Proc. 2015;90(12):1600-1613. doi:10.1016/j.maocop.2015.08.023.
3. Mata DA, Ramos MA, Bansal N. Prevalence of depression and depressive symptoms among resident physicians: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2015;314(22):2373-2383. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.15845.
4. Grant A. Does trying to be happy make us unhappy? DailyGood website. Available at: http://www.dailygood.org/story/1187/does-trying-to-be-happy-make-us-unhappy-adam-grant/. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.
Dr. Scheurer is a hospitalist and chief quality officer at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. She is physician editor of The Hospitalist. Email her at [email protected]