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What if we cared more? Loved more?

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http://nypost.com/2014/01/20/dad-track-star-killed-self-over-stress-from-upenn-workload/

I’ve spent the last 2 hours or so reading and looking at Madison’s Instagram instead of studying like I should have. She has really made me think about life… how precious it is… and how important it is to be happy in everything that you decide to do.

Don’t pick a career path just because your parents want you to, or that the salary is in the six digits, or that everyone else is doing it. Do it for you, for your happiness – because only then can you genuinely translate that happiness to others. What is driving the fire behind your soul?

Madison seemed like she had a pretty full and fun life. This made me think about how people might not be comfortable in telling you their clandestine thoughts and feelings, but it is our job as fellow human beings to care for one another – to love. This is what I want to do. As I articulated in my last post about relationship building, this adds another dimension. Life is too short – too precious. Make sure that whoever you talk to or come in contact with, that you are okay with how you made them feel with your words and gestures if that was your last day on Earth. Try to develop that deep connection with people so that maybe you can save someone’s life. This is a powerful realization for me. You don’t need an MD to save people’s lives – just genuine care for one another’s well-being by opening up, being vulnerable, talking deeply and loving thy neighbor.

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Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

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I’m sure many of you have been asked this question before. I was recently prompted with this question while completing a survey for an organization at OSU. In all my other times that I have answered this question, I always thought about school and career. But I realize there is more to life than just those two aspects – much more important.

Here was my response to the question on the survey that I saved on a computer sticky note:

About to finish medical school and hopefully receive a spot in a residency program in order to finally start a career as a physician. In terms of personal goals, I hope to have established a close and supportive friend/network group as well as developed a meaningful relationship with someone whom I would like to marry. I hope to be happy.

To me, the most important part of life is the relationships you build with other people – not how much you earn at your job or material wealth.

In my current journey to becoming a doctor, I am always faced with this dilemma. I have always been an introvert, so it’s really easy for me to shut myself off from the world and bury my head in books or within my own thoughts. This is good for studying I must say! But I would like to find that happy balance of alone productive time and time spent for developing relationships with others. It is also so easy to get caught up in the competition of getting accepted to medical school. I must not let this competition seep into my brain. We shouldn’t be competing against each other. We should be working together – for a common good. We should all want to be doctors to help those in need and this requires teamwork. I think this is something all premeds should keep reminding themselves of. I have been and still partly am a victim of this especially with application season quickly approaching. Don’t let the MCAT, grades and activities you need to do to look good for admissions get in the way of the real reason why you chose the career path.

I have recently tried this developing relationships mentality. I went to a premed conference and ran into two girls whom I had first met in my first two years in college. I spoke up first about exchanging phone numbers and keeping in touch! I think it will be great for all of us to lean on each other during this strenuous time of our lives.

It will be very interesting to see in five years what life will be like, and I can look back on this post to see what has changed.

I encourage you to do this exercise and write it down (or blog it out). But most importantly, try to think of more than your job and material success.

15 Ways to be Positive and Happy in Life :)

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What you think and how you think has a large influence on your outlook on life and affects how you show up to places and how others perceive you. For me, I have found that by focusing on the positive side of every situation you find yourself in, you’ll be a more happy and purposeful person.

I hope this list will give you some ideas on how to train your mind and change your actions to achieve an overall happier, satisfying, purposeful and meaningful life. This is an ongoing list that I am compiling whenever inspiration strikes me.

We’re all humans – of course we’ll still have our down days, but I find myself coming back to this list on those days to see how I can get myself out. Feel free to share some of your tips 🙂

1. Post only positivity on all your social media accounts.

2. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud until your sides hurt, rolling on the floor dying and almost peeing your pants (my favorite kind of laughter) – especially at yourself.

3. Listen to upbeat music! Sing and dance it out. To de-stress, I enjoy one person dance parties before bed. Try it 😛

4. Count your blessings. Be grateful for all that you have. Even simple things like: sunshine, family, friends, the ability to wake up every day and live.

5. Be authentic in all parts of your life. Be honest. Be true.

6. Perform random acts of kindness, all day every day. Some of my favorites: smiling at people, informing people there’s no toilet paper in a stall, helping people that look lost and telling people you appreciate them. You have the ability to make someone’s day, and this in turn can make your day.

7. Be altruistic. Help others. Give without expecting something back.

8. Don’t focus too much on the end goal. Cherish the journey to get there.

9. Catch up with friends. Be present. Put away your phone and relish pure human connections. Talk to people like they’re the only ones on earth.

10. Love is quite possibly one of the greatest human feelings. Give love to everyone – with hugs, kisses, words, gifts, gestures, compliments, a smile, a listening ear. Remind people how much they mean to you because you might not get a chance to if you wait too long.

11. Exercise. For health. For social interaction. For good mentality – with friends is even better. Trigger those endorphins that give you a pleasurable feeling. For me, I enjoy the long runs where deep thinking occurs.

12. Welcome deep meaningful dialogues. Be open and honest with yourself and others within reason. Don’t play games and beat around the bush. I guarantee you’ll find this a liberating feeling.

13. As a human race, we are more alike than we think. I often go on a meta-thinking tangent and picture ourselves as one big human family on a revolving blue sphere somewhere in the vast universe.

14. Keep a smile file 🙂 Write down anything that happens to you that makes you smile. Revisit it on your bad days. Also use it for reflection and the expression of gratitude.

15. There is no such thing as “too late” in life (this one is inspired by the book, Tuesdays with Morrie). If you want to achieve a healthier mindset and a happier life, you can begin any time 🙂

Here I Come India!

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Today, I found out that I got accepted to study public health in India during May Session. I am so so so excited and humbled that I will have the chance to cross off studying abroad on my Buckeye Bucket List. I actually have learned a life lesson already from this experience.

An excerpt from an essay I wrote applying for a study abroad scholarship:

“Failures should never be the last stop in one’s journey, just a pit stop to re-energize and reflect. A series of fortunate events led me to apply for Public Health Perspectives India a second time. Last year, I had prepared my study abroad application for a few months and even applied to two scholarships to help alleviate the financial burden. Former president Gee’s passport campaign inspired me to place studying abroad on my Buckeye Bucket List. I researched the May Session programs offered through The Office of International Affairs and pinpointed Public Health Perspectives – India as a relevant experience for my future career. I researched more about the city, university, and itinerary. I later emailed the contact person with questions and took a world history course to learn about India’s diverse population. My energy and excitement grew as I waited for the email of acceptance or denial. I received the latter. Interestingly, this failure only perpetuated my passion to study abroad. I had the opportunity to hear the positive experiences of three people I knew who went on the trip last year. One student kept a blog during the trip, and I had the pleasure of experiencing the daily happenings through a computer screen. From the Arabian Sea shores to a melancholy post about the status of the mentally ill to a festive Hindu wedding, reading a first-hand account was the next best thing to actually being there. Last semester, taking microbiology and sociology has made me think about how culture and society can really impact health. This year I am involved with the Buckeye Leadership Fellows program who recently took an immersive cultural trip to India during winter break, but I declined the opportunity so I could potentially study in-depth with Public Health Perspectives – India. All these profound moments in the last year pointed me in the direction of studying public health abroad, and I believe this experience will positively shape how I practice medicine in the future.”

I remember how I used to be so afraid of failure. I grew up around the mindset that I was the underdog and needed to excel in everything that I do. So when things didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to, it always took a huge hit on me – to the point where I sometimes felt like crying. Some vivid examples that I could remember from grade school are: being reprimanded about talking during class, receiving a detention in 5th grade for not getting a parent signature on a spelling contract, immense anger at receiving a B on a 6th grade math test, isolated at my first job by the boss to talk about needed improvements.

Fortunately, coming to college has helped re-shape my mindset about failures. After accumulating three large failures during my freshman year, I realized this is an inevitable part of life. The real question is: how are you going to deal with it? Dwell on the past and keep questioning why this happened to you of all people? or ask yourself how you can improve next time? The best answer is the latter.

This is one of my all time favorite quotes:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without enthusiasm.”

I love this life mantra so much. Never be afraid of failure for they are valuable learning moments. Reflect. And come back next time with more fervor. This goes for giving and receiving feedback too. Of course no one likes to be pointed out by their flaws, but often times this is the best way to learn about yourself and how you can be more effective. Feedback is love.