What Your Patients are Hearing

Overcoming social media’s false narratives; using fitness to fight addictions


Success vs. happiness: An illusion?

Harvard University academic Todd Rose, EdD, has taken on the idea that we can be happy or successful, but not both. In the book, “Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment,” Dr. Rose and his coauthor Ogi Ogas, PhD, posit that striving for personal fulfillment can generate career success, and that this success does not come at the expense of happiness.

“For most of us, when we think about success, it’s pretty narrow, and we end up thinking about things like wealth, status, power. And we sort of think that you have to choose between that and being happy – and dark horses show us that you actually don’t have to choose,” Dr. Rose said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

There was a time when Dr. Rose was a young father on welfare with a bleak outlook. Following his father’s advice to find his motivation and pursue it changed his life.

“Think about the things that you enjoy doing and ask yourself why. ... The more you think about those things, the more you know what really moves you. And if you ask yourself that question often enough, it will reveal your broader motives and that will put you on a path to fulfillment,” Dr. Rose said.

The same advice goes for parents trying to counsel their children about career choices. “But if you think about us as parents, we actually don’t ask our kids (what motivates them) very often. We spend a lot of time telling them what should matter and very little time helping them figure it out for themselves,” Dr. Rose said. “They need to figure out what really matters to them and what motivates them, and we can help them by asking.”

Healthy elders break stereotypes

Medical care is focused on helping patients get better. Another aspect of medical care – keeping healthy people healthy – is not always high on the learning agenda. But at more than 20 medical schools in the United States, second-year students are getting another perspective on health care from healthy seniors.

Eighty two-year-old Elizabeth Shepherd is a participant in the program being offered to medical students at Cornell University in New York City. Ms. Shepherd acquaints the students with her everyday life, which includes the occasional fall, dealing with macular degeneration, and the desire for more sexual activity. “It’s important that they don’t think life stops as you get older,” Ms. Shepherd said in an interview with The New York Times. “So I decided I would be frank with them.”

The program can help re-jig the sometimes distorted view that med students have of older adults. “Unfortunately, most education takes place within the hospital,” said Ronald D. Adelman, MD, who developed the program at Cornell. “If you’re only seeing the hospitalized elderly, you’re seeing the debilitated, the physically deteriorating, the demented. It’s easy to pick up ageist stereotypes.”

A powerful take-home message for the students is that all people are worth treating, regardless of age.

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