by Cherie T. Buisson, DVM, CHPV
Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian
Originally published on DrAndyRoark.com
There are days when my own goofiness is humbling. Today was one of them. It’s been 15 years since I had a young dog. Now I have two. Although I am thrilled and grateful to have joy in the house after losing my beloved Muggle, I have to admit that they are a challenge. The youngest isn’t quite house trained. We’re working on it, but accidents happen. I stress over whether she’s going to leave another puddle on our white carpet. I’m a bit under the weather today, so my patience isn’t what it should be. I found myself grumbling during each walk where she’d rather snort and sniff in the grass than do her business. At one point, we were out there for 15 minutes, which doesn’t seem like a long time until you’re walking in circles in your own yard.
By 2pm I was exhausted.
We went to the local pet store and bought some diapers, so that maybe I could get some things done and stop following her around the house. When we got home, she finally decided to pee, so we didn’t even need the diapers. At about 6pm it hit me; she didn’t have an accident ALL DAY. I spent the whole day stressed, and she was PERFECT. I spent so much time focused on the fact that she wouldn’t pee that I forgot SHE DIDN’T PEE IN THE HOUSE.
On my Facebook page at A Happy Vet, we have “What Was Good” Wednesday. This is one of my favorite techniques for reducing stress. Negative things have a tendency to stand out. In the early part of my career, I’d come home and complain that I’d had a bad day. Typically, I had one or two things that went wrong and the rest of the day was fine. I chose to concentrate on the bad things and therefore condemned an overwhelmingly positive day because of one or two negative experiences.
I started driving to work each day telling myself it was going to be a great day. I’d list the things I was looking forward to. On the way home for lunch and home for the day, I’d list the good things, the good people, the positive outcomes. Lo and behold, I started having more good days! NOTHING about my days changed – except my attitude and focus.
Certainly, there were days that truly were bad. The days I lost a patient unexpectedly (a rarity, thank goodness), the days where nothing seemed to go right, the days where more clients were unpleasant than pleasant – but those were extremely uncommon. Even on those days, I listed my heartbeat, my ability to breathe and the health of my pets and family as the things that were good about today.
Amazingly, so many things go right in veterinary medicine. Millions of vaccines are given that protect pets and don’t cause reactions, millions of surgeries are successful and complication-free, millions of clients are cooperative, grateful and truly love their pets. We don’t really think about those things much. Instead, the vaccine reactions, surgical complications and angry clients stand out……..unless you refuse to allow them to do so.
Try it. For one week, write down what was good about today. Don’t bother listing the negative things to see how they compare. Just look for positives. Every little thing you can think of: the clinic was not attacked by aliens with anal probes (okay, your patients probably thought so, but this isn’t their list, is it??), none of your patients were rabid (hopefully), your heart beat, your lungs did their thing. Your team held you up, you went home to your family, your pets were happy to see you.
Take a deep breath and blow the clouds away so you can see the sunshine. Bask in the knowledge that you are a veterinary professional with a gift for healing animals. You are a rock star. You are a unicorn. Inhale gratitude – it’s a bright light. Exhale negativity, it’s a black cloud. By the time you get home, maybe instead of complaining to your loved ones about your bad day, you can smile, kiss them and know that there is so much good in every day – if you only take the time to look.