The Green Study’s “Positively Happy Nice Story” Contest: Honorable Mention

An Honorable Mention goes to Cathy over at Healing Through Connection. Her essay “Don’t Give Up!” made me think about caregivers in any capacity and how important it is to reconnect with joy on a regular basis in order to continue caring for others.

She was sent a Green Study Coffee Mug, a unnecessary Minnesota postcard and I donated $25 to the American Red Cross on her behalf.

Don’t Give Up!

By Catherine Cheng, MD at Healing Through Connection

We could not have planned a more uplifting conclusion to our workshop if we tried.

canstockphoto4619305Eileen and Liz, my rock star colleagues from New Mexico and I, presented a seminar on institutional strategies for physician well-being at the International Conference on Physician Health last month.  The two of them have done this for a while.  They generously invited me to participate this time, as we had collaborated on a Grand Rounds series on physician wellness last year.  This was day two of the conference and we were already jubilant from communing with Our People, the Tribe of Healers trying to heal our profession.

We had the data.  Investing in physician well-being improves patient care, decreases physician errors, and increases patient satisfaction.  We knew it would be a friendly audience.  Still, we struggled to frame a role play exercise that would reliably help our colleagues make the case to their leaders that funding programs in physician health would ‘pay off.’  We came up with cases.  We had a back-up plan in case nobody volunteered.  But how could we really engage the crowd?  Most people loathe role play, especially before a group of strangers.

I had ideas to break the ice.  We could preface the exercise with communication techniques from two of my favorite TED talks.  The first was by Nancy Duarte: The Secret Structure of Great Talks.  A core tenet of any great presentation, she says, is to make the audience the hero.  We must engage our leaders with a call to adventure, inviting them to embark on a journey of discovery and triumph, leaving them with a sense of empowerment, ready to heed the call to action.  As a primary care physician, it struck me that this approach resembles counseling patients on health behavior change using motivational interviewing.  Rather than coming at our leaders with complaints and demands, we can instead come alongside them with observations and counsel.  This method would tap our deep capacities for empathy and connection, which were core values endorsed throughout the conference already.

The second practice, based on the talk commonly referred to as “Power Posing” by Amy Cuddy, would help people feel more confident while presenting to leadership.  Cuddy’s research shows that taking more expansive, upright postures helps people feel more powerful, and improves performance in high pressure situations, such as job interviews.  I stood like Wonder Woman in front of my hotel mirror for ten minutes before my presentation at the University of New Mexico last year, and I am convinced it helped me stay grounded and self-assured throughout my talk.  We could have the whole audience power pose before the role play!

When Eileen finished presenting the wealth of evidence for promoting physician well-being, it was my turn to inspire workshop attendees.  I wanted to light the fires of excitement, spark their imaginations, and help them bear the flames of commitment home to engage their leaders.  I mustered my own passion for clear, strong, confident communication.  We were here to empower one another, and I was going to lead by example.

chengpost2The audience responded with enthusiasm and joy.  We did one short role play, and then people just started openly sharing.  Some asked for practical advice, like how do we actually bring it up in a meeting?  Others told us what had already worked for them, such as aligning physician well-being with existing strategic plans around improving patient safety and decreasing physician turnover.  The overwhelming atmosphere in the room radiated generosity, collaboration, and shared mission.  It felt warm and hopeful.

As time ran out, Ted stood up and asked to make one last comment.  “Don’t give up,” he said.  He had been doing this work for twelve years, since before the phrase ‘physician well-being’ existed.  He had witnessed the evolution of technology and its deleterious impact on our work and our relationships.  This gave him the perspective we all needed.  He testified to the turning of the tide, the rising swell of attention and dedication to buoy physicians up from the undertow of burnout.  He, the veteran physician advocate, told us three that our workshop made his registration fee for the whole conference worthwhile.  He could not have offered a higher compliment.  Liz, Eileen and I stepped out that afternoon each feeling a little taller, a little more like Wonder Woman.

Ironically, prior to the conference, I had given up on my leaders.  But my own presentation taught me a new lesson in humility and partnership.  I have since re-engaged, and I feel hopeful again.chengpost1

Don’t give up.

Stay on the Path.

We can make a difference.

We will change the world.

Congratulations Dr. Cheng!

Here’s a Healing Through Connection sampler:

Who Are You and Why Have You Come?

AtoZChallenge: Every Day a Revolution

So You Want to Lose Weight: The Four A’s of Goal Setting

The Green Study Catnap: Talk Amongst Yourselves

canstockphoto6664108The August hiatus has been short-lived. My mother-in-law had a medical emergency which dictated that sleep is fleeting for all of us, often a nod-off in any available hospital chair. Watching someone you love getting poked and prodded, dignity stripped away, these are moments that belong to a forgetful summer haze. If we remember them, we would not want to love again. It’s a prick to the psyche. Or a psychic prick, which sounds funnier but like a different website altogether. Holy batshit, I need sleep.

So, as I continue to gather my wits and drool on myself, while snoring at inopportune moments, let’s continue with my month of blog introductions. Last week, we met Ellen, Pheonix, Alison and Don. This week we have a doctor of medicine and meditation, a gardener/writer/wonder woman with attitude, and a blogger who wants to make kindness cool. Sounds like the perfect prescription for any psychic pricks. She giggles hysterically to herself, slumps over and commences twitching like a dog dreaming of rabbits.


Meet Catherine Cheng, M.D. at Healing Through Connection: The Inner Work of Physician-Patient Relationship

I only started my blog in April, and the learning curve has been steep and fun. The community has welcomed me and I look forward to contributing as a good citizen. I am an internist in Chicago, mom of two, and seeker of connection. I started my blog and aim my writing to reclaim the healing physician-patient relationship. I approach it mostly through self-reflection, and a desire to start conversations between people about why we do what we do, what we all need, and how we can serve one another best.

Below are three representative posts:

The Premise

Bring What Ya Got

Gratitude, Generosity and Peace


Meet Honie at HonieBriggs: is a mashup of rants and poetry and photography with some navel gazing thrown in for good measure.

I think maybe these three are a fair representation of what readers will find on my blog:

The Long and Short of It

Remembering Longfellow

Caution: Contents May Shift During Mood Swings


Meet Donna at A Year of Living Kindly:

After about a decade of thinking about how important kindness is in this ever-shrinking planet, I decided to publicly commit to “A Year of Living Kindly”. It’s not that I’ve been a bitch all my life and am now trying to change my ways; I’m actually a nice person, but nice isn’t enough if we want to change the world. One can be nice without expending too much energy or effort; one can be nice without risking. Kindness sometimes takes risk, courage, and a willingness to be vulnerable. It also takes a good dose of humor whenever possible. So that’s what I’ve been exploring.

Here are three representative posts:

Choosing to Be For or Against…

Kindness and Curiosity

Extending Kindness to All


Thank you to the participating bloggers for taking the time to share a little with the readers here.

Tune in next week for artists and healers!