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Oct. 23, 2013

Happiness is...

Oct. 23, 2013

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands. Anyone clapping? Anyone? Ok, maybe you don’t have to clap your hands to show it, but it’s always my hope that most people are happy.

But happiness is tough and sometimes elusive. So many other things come into our life that seek to kidnap our happiness and hide it away from us. Health problems, money woes, failed relationships, stress, loss and grief happen to everyone. So how does one live with the tough things and still stay happy?

Charles Schultz said happiness was a warm puppy. Aristotle said it depends upon ourselves. The Dalai Lama said it is the purpose of our lives. Thomas Jefferson said the pursuit of it is an unalienable right. Susan B. Anthony said it’s independence. Helen Keller said no one has a right to consume it without producing it. Someone said money can’t buy it. Judy Garland implored us to forget our troubles and just get it.

Easier said than done, right?

Now imagine you’re a medical student with a tremendous course load, grueling hours, a super competitive environment and everyday life stressors. Oh yeah, and that whole learning to make life and death decisions for other people thing. I don’t know about you, but I imagine it’s pretty hard some days to stay happy with all that facing you. 

Luckily for MSU medical students, psychiatry resident, Miko Rose, came up with something that helps. The Joy Initiative, an MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine program, was designed to help medical students envision and incorporate happiness into their lives. Read the latest MSUToday feature, The Joy Initiative—Just What the Doctor Ordered, to learn more about this innovative program.  

Kim Peck sees firsthand how medical school can impact someone’s happiness. She is an academic and professional development advisor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. In her job, she provides support to students and helps them successfully navigate medical school. She said she sees a lot of tears. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Medicine in Mind, to learn more about her experiences.

Programs like the Joy Initiative and people like Kim all help make happier doctors. And, in my opinion, better doctors. I want my doctor to be happy. I want him or her to love what he or she does. Even when situations aren’t easy, a doctor who is generally happy can make a difference for patients.

Melissa Elafros is a Fellow with the International Neurologic and Psychiatric Epidemiology Program and an M.D./Ph.D. candidate in the MSU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Human Medicine. Melissa has spent some of her education in Zambia exploring the intersection of HIV and epilepsy.

It’s not happy work. It’s not easy work. I’ve been to the hospital she worked at and there is a lot of sadness there. But at her core, Melissa seems to be a happy person who has improved lives. Read her STUDENT VIEW: At Home in Zambia, and you’ll see the joy in her work that comes through in her writing.   

I have an awesome cardiologist. While he works at that other university hospital down the road, he went to med school at MSU. (Football aside, I think we all can admit their hospital is world-class. So, of course, they would hire a Spartan!) I obviously don’t know his inner thoughts, but he’s seems pretty happy to me.

In fact, his jovial manner combined with some serious skill make him the best kind of doctor to have. He didn’t have the benefit of the Joy Initiative while he was here, but judging by him, our medical schools must always have been doing something right. I literally have put my heart in his hands (or least some wires that go into it to keep it beating). Know what makes me happy? Knowing he’s a Spartan. 

Spartans Will. 

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday


Photo of students by Derrick L. Turner



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