But Gary R. Simonds, MD, MHCDS, and Wayne M. Sotile, PhD—authors of the new book Thriving in Healthcare: A Positive Approach to Reclaim Balance and Avoid Burnout in Your Busy Life believe that the key to overcoming burnout is to make a choice to practice wonderment so that you can better cope with stress and build resilience.
“If you are in wonderment, then you are engaged. It’s a choice to seek and experience the wonder of what is behind all that is around you,” says Dr. Simonds. The authors offer these tips to help you tap into a state of wonderment:
- Look for the positive angle. In the midst of a bad situation, look for ways to affect the situation for the better, even if you cannot completely rectify it. Doing some good will help dispel feelings of helplessness for all involved.
- Seek out, collect, and reflect on all the good that is happening. Multiple studies support the concept that “collecting” uplifts can significantly boost well-being and counter psychological distress. Actively seek a 3-to-1 ratio of uplifts to hassles. The uplifts are there, but it takes effort to recognize them. Remind yourself to routinely seek out, remember and share with your colleagues and loved ones the positive events of your workweek or day.
- Nourish and cherish your relationships. We are social creatures, so don’t stop developing new friendships. It’s critical to fully commit to nourishing your relationships—with coworkers as well as loved ones.
- Celebrate being part of the team. In the midst of your daily work, it is important to keep sight of what you and your colleagues are all trying to do. No matter what part you play, your work contributes—it has real meaning, and you should revel in that fact. Trace the steps from your particular work to its eventual impact on customers. It’s likely that the degrees of separation are very few, no matter your job.
- Seize every opportunity to be kind. Every interaction with coworkers and customers opens up the possibility of selfless acts of kindness.
- Be generous with compliments. A positive work atmosphere diminishes job stress, even in the face of intense work demands and extended hours. Recognize and acknowledge good work that is done by coworkers and colleagues (and your own good work as well!). Offer genuine praise and compliments when earned, particularly by those at or below your level. Such behavior is infectious, and others will eventually join in.
Wonderment is a conscious choice you must make every day, but the rewards can be lifechanging, insist Drs. Simonds and Sotile. “Instead of handwringing over burnout, trying to distract yourself, or figuring out how to spend less time at work, go all in,” says Dr. Sotile. “Focus on satisfaction, engagement, camaraderie, gratitude, joy. These things generate energy and help you stay in a state of wonderment. When you face each day fully engaged in your work, you will see your career with new eyes, and you will be constantly astonished by the thrill of it all.”