Thanksgiving Special: Give Thanks

I don’t usually do posts which focus on holidays or current events, but my usual posting day fell on Thanksgiving, I am a big fan of appreciation, and I had an experience this week I thought would be good to share from a mental health/happiness/success standpoint.

For SAVMA Wellness Week last week at our institution, students answered a “What are you thankful for?” question. Some of the anonymous responses were sent out to the college, which I thought was wonderful. If you have read the blog much, you know I think appreciation is incredibly valuable for your professional success. Since veterinarians are leaders, we need to show appreciation to those we lead.

Some of the responses from the students indicate that they have a healthy, balanced approach to problems. This semester has been incredibly challenging for everyone. We are all stressed. I have communications with faculty at other institutions and they express the same feelings. Focusing on negative feelings, how terrible everything is, and all the bad things is a great way to lead to perpetual unhappiness.

Instead, my advice is like that I give when a medical error is made: acknowledge what happened, have your feelings about it, and then focus on what you can control going forward. I will add another step when everything seems terrible: try to find something positive from the experience.

Even though this semester has been very hard, some of the positive comments from our students included receiving support from friends and family, appreciation to faculty and administrators for trying their hardest, learning how adaptable they can be, and learning new technology and ways to learn. Seeing these notes of appreciation was wonderful to me. I worry sometimes that students focus too much on the negative. Seeing some realize that there was some good this semester was heartening.

My own exercise in appreciation for the semester:

  • I appreciate that the students were patient and understanding
  • I appreciate that the students gave very professional, helpful feedback to me to improve my course
  • I appreciate my friends and spouse who have provided wonderful social support so I never felt alone or lonely even though we couldn’t see people
  • I appreciate my colleagues for being patient with me in several delayed research projects and providing space for me to prioritize different professional responsibilities
  • I am grateful that I continue to be healthy and able to pursue the activities I like

What do you appreciate? What is going well in your life?

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