Gratitude in an era of negativity:

May 01, 2023
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Gratitude in an era of negativity:

The stability of healthcare during economic volatility and turmoil


May , 2023, By Brett Levine, MD


Life in medicine today is drowning in a tidal wave of negativity between staff shortages, decreasing reimbursements, and burnout, there is little talk about anything positive in the world of doctors, nurses and healthcare.


When the waves of complaints, doom and gloom are crashing over me all the time, I try to swim to other waters rather than drown. 



The reality is that there remain many benefits of working in medicine.  In fact, most of the reasons that attracted me to medicine decades ago are still there and remain the same.  I want to share these as reminders and a different perspective from the echo chambers of financial freedom, passive income and getting out of medicine.


I don’t have to sell my patients anything.  

I offer advice from my knowledge and experience.  

I remain fascinated by the human body and mind and how we experience life.

I translate complex physiology and complaints into treatment options.  

I hear thanks and feel fulfillment from the gratitude of patients who feel better daily.  

I change lives every day.  

I enjoy the opportunity to meet strangers many of whom I can help(Unfortunately not all). Every day my patients remind me of the blessing of my own good health or not having the diagnoses and challenges that I help others with. 



What about medicine are you grateful for?


Despite volatile interest rates rising, layoffs in tech and stock market values dropping, healthcare is particularly stable with respect to economic turmoil.  Through 2008, Covid and our current economic uncertainty, my practice is busier than ever and my work is stable.


 The Great Recession of 2007-2009 represented one of the longest and deepest downturns since World War II where unemployment reached 10% but there was little effect on job growth in healthcare regardless of the geographic location.  In fact, healthcare employment continued to grow and demonstrated a resistance to job losses.


Over my decades in medicine and life, I have discovered that gratitude is the strongest antidote to negativity.  


I started a gratitude journal and seek out new gratitudes to record.

I am thankful for so many things every day…

a beautiful sunny day.

any clinic session to flow smoothly and ends on time.

every surgery that has no surprises and goes as planned.

when my kids are proud of something they accomplished.

The times my wife and I laugh at silly, stupid things.

That my body has no pain.




Do you have a gratitude journal?

How would writing and reading one make you feel?


Sometimes when I need to refuel my bucket, 

I sit down and read my gratitude journal and remember.

I remember all that I think I know but so easily forget.

How incredibly fortunate I am right now in this moment.


I am thankful for so many people whose paths have crossed mine and who have changed my life, inside or outside of medicine.  

This gratitude leads me to another exercise that I found powerful. 

I recorded all the names of those people who have changed my life for the better at every stage of my life

From that list, I wrote a handwritten letter to 1 person once a week for a year.  

I thanked them for changing my life. 

It allowed me to focus on my good fortune and spread positive vibrations into the world.




Who has seen something in you that you didn’t?
Who would you like to thank that you never have?
How do you feel when you thank them?


With social media and instant information, we live in a world where it has become so easy to choose what we want to hear.  This forces a false magnification of our choices as we swim in an ocean of voices that reverberate what we focus on.  This may help with goals and distractions but at the same time, this echo chamber magnifies the negative as much as the positive…

UNLESS we choose to focus on the positive as we learn, grow and expand our lives while we enjoy them.


I am thankful for your attention and thoughts.

What do you think?




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