Working as a GP in the esteemed but overstretched british national institution which is the modern NHS can be tough at times. I felt this a little more than usual last week having just returned from my summer holiday in the artificial bubble and pinnacle of one of America’s own national institutions – Disney World – the “happiest place on earth”.
Since beginning this blog, I’m always on the lookout for innovative ideas. Free association of unrelated concepts is a great source of inspiration. So I kept my iPhone in hand to jot down any thoughts that might help improve life and care within General Practice or the wider NHS.
A. Work hard, to achieve success, then feel happy.
The A-Level student knows they will be happy when they get into Medical School. The medical student will be happy when they graduate. The foundation doctor wants a good specialist training place. The specialist trainee will be happy when they complete training and find a permanent job. The GP/Consultant thinks they will be happy when they have saved enough money for early retirement….
Delayed gratification is certainly an essential part of the toolkit needed to achieve success. But, like me, you have probably learnt that there is more to actually being happy.
The obvious problem with the approach above is that happiness is all too often replaced by the next challenge. It is always in the future, when where we live is the present.
Evidence from the field of behavioural psychology suggests that this conventional wisdom about how to find happiness has even deeper flaws. And that the relationship between work, success and happiness is more complex than our instinctive, socially conditioned first thoughts might imply.
Shawn Achor, a Harvard Lecturer and psychologist, suggests in his book “The Happiness Advantage”, that the relationship between work, success and happiness actually runs in the opposite directions.
“People are smarter, more effective and resilient when they are happy”
You may have been noticing people acting rather strangely this week. Why are that couple walking on the patch of grass next to the Tesco that leads no where? Why are those teenagers hanging around outside the church next to the surgery? Are there more families walking around together in the sun? And why are they all holding mobile phones in their hands
Fortunately, it seems nearly everyone knows the answer. My 60 year old parents, my eight year old nephew, the practice manager and and the patients all know.
They are all playing Pokemon Go.
A new and addictive mobile game which has taken the world by storm. It is giving us all one of those rare shared cultural moments when everyone, young and old, have something in common to talk about.
“It is perhaps the first game to implement mixed reality”
Pokemon Go has had more active users than Twitter, and replaced “porn” as the most searched term on Google, this week.
A patient told me about Pokemon Go in clinic this Tuesday. “My autistic son wanted to get up and go out of the house. He never wants to do that.”
Interestingly, Pokemon Go is also receiving praise for having a positive impact on people’s mental and physical health.