1. My Story of How a Pivotal Question Changed my Outlook

Before becoming a physician, I was a professional magician. For me, magic and illusions have been and always will be great forms of entertainment and amusement, especially in a large theatrical setting, bringing excitement and laughter whenever it’s performed. When I finally became a doctor, it seemed like a natural segue to performing magic for children, even in the clinical setting. It transformed a serious, cold and sterile clinical environment into a more hospitable and less threatening one. Let’s face it, being at a doctor’s office or hospital is not most people’s preferred place to visit.  As I progressed in my journey from medical student to full-fledged physician, I experienced something very unexpected, inspiring and life-altering. But to understand where I ended up, I need to take you back to the early stages of my medical training. Here is part of my story.

 

When I was an apprehensive, third-year medical student, I was following a pediatrician in my clinical rotation. We were about to see a patient together when he stopped and said to me, “You’d better not come in with me to see this little girl. She’s seven years old and extremely shy. It’s taken me three years to develop some level of trust with her. She’s finally not afraid of me, and she has finally allowed me to examine her without screaming and crying.”

2. The List

 

Many of us have heard of the now infamous “bucket list”.  This is a list of the top 100 things you would like to do before you die.  I think it’s a great idea.  But there’s a better and unique list that I believe everyone should develop. The list I’m referring to is an idea given to me by a friend of mine, Bob Youden, who developed his own list of rules/lessons he’s learned in his own life. He’s developed this list over his lifetime about simple principles that he has learned to live by.  It’s not rocket science but it’s a great snapshot of principles to live by. 

Everyone should develop a list that is personalized and reflects their own life. This list should be fun, educational. It can be based on common things and principles you already live by or from teachings you’ve acquired from school, books, friends, family, and your faith.  One way to develop this list is to think “What teaching points would I  want to have on my tombstone for the future generations to know about me or my philosophies”.  The points should be brief and maybe only you know the significance of what that title means and another person looking at it would/could ask you.  I’ll share with you a few that are on my list so you get the idea.  The list could include ideas from your spiritual, financial, health, relationship learnings or thoughts. You could include your favorite movie song etc.

 

  1. Always error on the side of more; more food at a party, more compassion, more time to listen, more money when you go out etc.

  2. When traveling on a long journey, where dark pants ketchup and coffee stains don’t show up as easily

  3. Recite what you are grateful for every day, make it a habit

  4. If your bus leaves at 9:00 am, don’t leave your home at 9:00 am

  5. Find the help button and use it

  6. Don’t yell, unless something heavy or sharp is about to fall on someone

  7. Learn to confront with elegance

  8. Don’t live without hope

  9. Learn to be flexible

  10. Always look for the other side of the story because there’s always another side of a story

  11. Don’t embarrass anyone in public or private

  12. Learn from people smarter than you and seek their guidance

  13. Don’t just learn from your mistakes, learn from others

  14. Learn to give freely and to receive freely

  15. ....

 

My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 52. I was 29. My father died of throat cancer at the age of 77. He was a smoker.

 

As I get older I cannot help but think of the milestones in my life and compare them to the experiences of my parents. My mind says “Gee, at this age they just immigrated to England from India and were working to save money with three little boys.” When they came to Canada, I thought to myself, my mom was only 29 and my dad was 40. They came with nothing but hopes of making something. It gives me perspective, as I go along in my life, to compare my chronological events with theirs.

 

I think I was critical of...

3. My Father's Smile

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