I think I’m a little burned out and getting the mid-residency blues. I talked with my mom on the phone today and could barely keep myself from crying… what is it about mom’s?! That helps explain this email from my dad tonight which I had to share:
Mommy tells me that you are not very happy because of understandable money worries and because you’re not enjoying being a resident.
I totally understand.
When I was your age (and younger), I was often unhappy—stressed, overly-busy, adrift, frenetic, unsettled, ill-at-ease, without purpose.
I solved this problem by creating a personal mission statement which reflected, in great detail and with the most insprirational language I could muster, my vision for the life I wanted to lead and the values I wanted to live by.
Every week, I would reflect on this personal mission statement, and plan my week proactively around it.
This process helped me, over time, find peace and inner serenity. It helped keep me focused and to be purposeful, diligent, and energized—however enervating and stressful the circumstances I found myself in.
Above all, it gave my life purpose and meaning—which is the secret to finding happiness and fulfillment.
Sometimes well-meaning but naïve friends and family members would try to give me advice. “Take a vacation.” “Take a break.” “Have a drink.” “Go to the pub of the evening.” “Watch television and relax.” “Buy yourself a nice car or some other luxury.” “Take it easy and don’t work so hard.” “Be comfortable and relax.” “Go to some fancy resort for a few days.”
All this advice was worse than useless because none of it addressed the problem. The problem was that I lacked exciting goals and having projects that I was passionate about.
To be happy, I realized I needed to throw myself into one of the world’s great social causes (in my case, energy conservation and environmental protection) so I could be involved in something that would outlast me and was bigger than I was.
Taking it easy and relaxing simply exacerbated the problem and didn’t help at all.
I realized something that some people seemed to miss. Happiness came from inside me, not from what was going on around me.
This is why you find wealthy people who are miserable and all they do is whine and complain, and other people in concentration camps in unbelievably harsh and deprived conditions who are happy. (I think you know the famous book on that topic called Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl)
Happiness is something you can intentionally choose, however destitute and dispiriting your situation. For a start, there are always people around us who are worse off who need help.
Good luck, treasure, as you fight your way back to finding a fulfilling life. I hope these few reflections help.
You are a wonderful person with a great future ahead of you.
I love you.