Let us be thankful. Sounds like a Thanksgiving admonition, doesn't it? Why not make every day a day of thanks? It is easy to blabber on about being thankful, but do you really know what it means? It may take something life-shattering to help you understand the meaning of thankfulness.
As some of you know, my world was shattered one year ago. My husband died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. He had not been sick and had no warning. It happened on a lazy Sunday afternoon three days after Thanksgiving. We had attended church and come home to chow down on Thanksgiving leftovers. After cleaning up the dishes, I parked in the recliner with my Sunday newspaper, and he retreated to his workshop in the basement.
About three hours later, he came upstairs complaining of feeling a little dizzy and sweaty. He lay down on the sofa and requested a cool wash cloth and some Pepsi. After a couple minutes, he said he felt better and the dizziness was subsiding. I asked if he was having chest pain, and he said no. Ten minutes later he took a long deep breath and died. He was 50 years old.
David was my best friend and chief cheerleader. We had a deep love for each other that only grew richer during our 29 years together. I always envisioned us growing old together. His death left me feeling as though I was dangling by my pinkie finger from a tall tree limb.
Slowly but surely, I have regained solid footing, but not without the support and prayers of hundreds of people, including family, friends, coworkers and even patients.
The lesson I have learned is this: happiness is a choice! Every day, upon waking, I decide whether I will be happy. It may not be a conscious choice, but it is a choice all the same. I could have chosen to remain in the dark security of the pit of despair and self-pity. I could have decided that life was too painful without him by my side. Indeed, I have seen days when I thought I would never laugh again. However, I made the choice to come up out of that pit, to get on with my life, to be happy and to be thankful.
This tragedy has changed forever the way I view life. Before, I took life for granted. It was something I "did" whether I enjoyed it or not. I started many days with a sense of dread as I got up and prepared for work. As the day wore on, I transferred my dread to the chores that awaited me at home — cooking for my family, laundry, cleaning house and so on. The next day, I did it all again. Does this sound familiar to you? Are some of you in this rut? I didn't stop to consider what a blessing it is to have a job, to have a family, to be able to cook and clean, and even do laundry. The mundane things of life are all blessings!
I am baring my heart today in hope of stirring you. Have you considered what a blessing your patients are? Every day, you have the unique opportunity to touch someone's life, to be a caregiver and a friend, and to be a bright spot in someone's day. You provide a valuable service to your patients — and the patients you dread seeing (you know, the ones with atrocious oral hygiene) need you the most! These wonderful people we call "patients" are a blessing, something for which to be thankful.
Are you thankful for your job? Do you express appreciation to your boss, even when she or he doesn't stroke your ego from time to time? How long has it been since you told a patient what a great doctor your boss is? Do you thank your doctor privately when he or she pays for your lunch, for a continuing education class, or for your Christmas present? What have you done lately to uplift your boss? Do you go the extra mile to be the best hygienist you can possibly be? On the other hand, do you sit around at lunch and disparage the doctor in the presence of your co-workers? Do you do only what you have to do to get through the day?
And what about your co-workers? Do you appreciate them and express that appreciation both verbally and non-verbally by your actions? Do you co-exist peacefully with them, or are you involved in hateful and painful skirmishes?
If you are reading this column, you have something precious — life! You have the choice to waste your life by living it with a sense of dread and unhappiness that permeates everything you do.
On the other hand, you can approach each new day as something precious — a gift from God — to be lived as a blessing to all those people whose path crosses yours, including your boss, co-workers, and patients. A wise person once said yesterday is past, tomorrow is the future but today is a gift. That's why it is called the present. Let's stop this business of "getting through another workday," and start recognizing all the opportunities we have to give of ourselves to others.
As we prepare for a new year, make a pact with me in your heart never to take another day for granted. Squeeze every drop of goodness from your work life by approaching your patients with compassion and love — even the crotchety ones! Be thankful for your job, your boss and your co-workers. When you do this, I guarantee you will never dread another workday.
Let us be thankful!
In the November 2002 issue, I was the author of an article titled, "The Cutting Edge." I referred to a sharpening technique for high-speed handpieces involving a "green stone." Several readers have contacted me for additional information about the DuraGreen Stones by Shofu Dental Corp., and more information can be obtained at www.shofu.com.
Dianne D. Glasscoe, RDH, BS, is a professional speaker, writer, and consultant to dental practices across the United States. She is CEO of Professional Dental Management, based in Lexington, N.C. To contact Glasscoe for speaking or consulting, call (336) 472-3515, fax (336) 472-5567, or email [email protected]. Visit her Web site at www.profession aldentalmgmt.com.