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The Tao of Dentistry

The Changing TAOofDentistry

March 14, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barry @ 9:26 PM

I want to thank all of the readers of TAOofDentistry.com through the years. I have learned a lot through my years in dentistry, and chose to write my original blog in order to share my philosophy—or way of practice.

I have recently retired from clinical dentistry and want to continue writing because so much has occurred in the dental profession and I would still like to continue to write about the perennial wisdom that helped me though my career. Last week I did an interview with an editor about my next project. Her last question was, “what one tool could you not live without in practice?” I thought about that for a while. I think she thought I would say something like my electric handpiece or even the telephone. But I told her it would be “my personal philosophy.”

That is the one tool that rarely changed and the one tool that brought me to where I am today. (Successfully retired).

I first started developing my philosophy when I went to the Pankey Institute many years ago. L.D. Pankey developed his own life and practice philosophy based on the writings of Aristotle. I became enchanted. I couldn’t get enough of that material and continued to study philosophy, psychology and personal development over the next twenty five years. I read everything and ended up writing four books. The theme of all the books was personal development.

I also studied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

As you know dentistry is a very intimate profession. The craft of dentistry is quite objective but the human side of dentistry is filled with emotional situations that can change everything. The dentist must learn to become an excellent clinician as well as a businessman and a psychologist. In my Positive Psychology program I realized that the philosophy of L.D. Pankey, Aristotle, the cognitive psychologists, the humanists, and today’s self-help gurus like Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill were basically teaching what has been taught through the years by a group of philosophers known as The Stoics. Mainly the philosophy of the three most well-known – Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius.

Albert Ellis, the founder of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) credited the ancient stoics for being the inspiration for his work in helping patients to make rational sense of intense emotional situations. Viktor Frankl the Holocaust survivor used Stoicism to help develop his form of therapy—logotherapy, which helps us to slow down and get into the gap between stimulus and response.

Stoicism has become very popular these days. It is regularly discussed on the podcasts of Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogen. Ryan Holiday has made Stoicism into a cult following with his books, The Daily Stoic, The Obstacle is the Way and The Ego is the Enemy. I have been studying and applying Stoicism in my life and practice for the past four years.

That is why I am changing the name and the focus of this blog to Stoicdentistry.com. The posts will help answer much of the confusion that young dentists have these days concerning, leadership, purpose, meaning, practice management, excellence, burnout and motivation, well-being (physical, mental and emotional).

So this will probably be my last post on TAOofDentistry.com. Hopefully you can join me on Stoicdentistry.com for continual posts. I will try to post every week —maybe twice per week. If you are a young dentist looking for thoughts and ideas on dental practice, don’t hesitate to contact me – and if you have suggestions on what you would like me to write about–please comment below. Remember – before success–before happiness—there is philosophy.

What We Can Learn About Dental Practice – Playing Blackjack

February 21, 2019

Filed under: Art of the Examination — Barry @ 10:56 AM

Would you like to learn how to win at playing Blackjack? If you have about five or six hours I can show you how. I offer no guarantees but at least you will learn a system that you can take back to your dental practice —and there I will guarantee the results.

Fifteen years ago I wrote my first book, The Art of the Examination. 

In that book I explained what was to become the heart and soul of my practice for years…the key system to which all other systems were connected. Intellectually I totally understood the importance of the system and felt qualified to write that book. Like playing blackjack, I understood the rules and felt that if I just followed the rules I would win. But life doesn’t work like that and in dentistry and in games of skill...it takes practice. While playing Blackjack I noticed a few things…things that would prohibit other players from ever winning over the long run. They might win a hand here and there…but they would always leave broke, and mostly frustrated or angry.

Like many dentists that I know…leaving work frustrated and angry.

Let’s face it, who has the emotional temperament or resilience to keep going when you always get bad cards…or bad patients. What I realized is that we have little control over the cards or the next patient who walks in our door.

And just what are bad cards? I have won when I had a 16 and the dealer showed a 10. I have won with 12s. I have lost with 20. In all of those cases I played my hands as “the book” told me to play…like the dealer (the house) plays. Like a robot, very boring.  With patients the same thing…I have had all kinds of patients accept all kinds of dentistry…and have people who I felt needed and could afford good dentistry, refuse treatment. But I always played by the rules I developed in my book and I always did a comprehensive examination on every patient…no shortcuts. Like a robot. No deviation and my staff learned to align themselves around the examination process.

I can write a book about that word process. I did.

I told you if you want to win you had to commit to playing for a long time. As time went on I began to realize that I did have control over some things. At Blackjack I could control the amount that I bet. When the cards heated up I would increase my bet (press the bet for those of you who never gamble). Those players who never pressed, rarely won. Occasionally they would go for broke and put all their chips on the table…just when the dealer gets her third blackjack in a row. Sad to watch.

In your dental practice you too have things you can control. Like the conversation…and with practice that gets better in time. You can also control the amount of time you spend with the patient. For those of you who have seen me speak I often talk about “slowing down” because when working with people slow is fast (their ability to make decisions) and fast is slow (their inability to make decisions). When you think about it there are so many things you can control or influence. So many dentists don’t take the time to provide this level of service. Many jump to conclusions by judging the patient way too prematurely, never getting the opportunity to get to “yes.”

Like busting before the dealer ever gets to play her cards.

When I began to practice playing Blackjack and practice my examination skills I began to win more…and more. You can too. Last week as I was leaving the casino I saw one of those losers walking to his car and cursing at the moon about how unlucky he was. Then he steeped in dog pooh. I couldn’t help smiling because he knows how to play, yet all he needed was a philosophy and good systems. Then…I looked down and on the ground was a twenty dollar bill just waiting for a new owner…I guess you might say I am lucky.

Ask These 2 Questions and Become an Instant Leader

January 22, 2019

Filed under: Leadership,Mastery,Trust — Barry @ 10:22 PM
Breaking Down Leadership

I recently sat in on a Facebook Live interview with a dentist who was discussing practice management for young dentists. Like so many times the interviewer asks the guest, “What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a dentist who is just starting out in his or her career?” And like so many “experts” he replied with a simple answer that I think would help —- no one. He said, “learn leadership.”

Quite confusing.

It was like asking for advice on how to live a long life and responding by saying…keep breathing. Yes, leadership is the right answer, but have you ever looked at the number of options there are on the leadership shelf at Barnes and Noble…not to mention Amazon.

Young dentists need better answers. More practical answers. Answers that allow them to apply what they know. Leadership comes in many styles and sizes. Leadership is a universal concept. Did the dentist mean the Leadership Lessons of Abe Lincoln…or the Navy Seals? There is a big difference.

A better question might have been in studying leadership, where should I start regardless of style, personality or even mission…or what is the one thing that all leaders have in common? The answer…duh…is followers. No one can be a leader without followers and in a dental practice that would be patients and staff.

So what is it that the followers in a dental practice want to know? Trust me, not one will take one step forward if they don’t believe that you are the doctor that will take them where they want to go. In order for you to create that belief you must answer the two silent questions that everyone has in their mind.

They want to trust you, and they have to trust you.

The first question is: “Do you care about me?” So that is your starting point. Don’t take for granted that you are being perceived as someone who puts their patients and staff ahead of themselves. In my time I have met many docs who believe that they cared more about others than they do about themselves. Generally I met them when they came to me for a second opinion.  It takes time —lots of time to develop that mindset and habit set—but the question was where I would tell the young dentist to start.

The second question is: “Can you do the job?” or “Are you competent enough to do the job?” Well, what that says is that as a young dentist, from a technical perspective, understand that you are still in your apprenticeship stage of your career. That means there is plenty more to learn. In my career I remember taking many technical courses that were disconnected and I had to make sense of them. It was more like a self-directed apprenticeship. Today I would advise the young dentist to find a mentor…a person to person mentor…who can answer these two questions for himself.

To that mentor (leader)—I would ask…do you care about me and can you do the job?

That would be my advice to any young dentist looking to learn about leadership, trust and even mastery.

New Book Offers Perennial Wisdom for Young Dentists

December 18, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Barry @ 10:13 PM

I am proud to announce the publication of my latest book, The Complete Dentist: Positive Leadership and Communication Skills for Success in Dentistry. 

While writing this book I went through many emotional ups and downs. My past books were about specific procedures like the examination and case presentation. This book was borne out of the thought of “what really matters” for a career in dentistry.

I wanted it to be relevant for today’s younger dentists. My own career path was a very bumpy road, and I practiced at a time before the professional landscape became so difficult to practice with a sense of autonomy. I began practice before insurance, before HMOs, PPOs, advertising and corporate influence.

I wanted to write a book that could work in any environment. One that focused more on the overall well-being of the dentist. I wanted to write a book that didn’t focus on technical dentistry or dental marketing or ways to “get new patients.”

Looking over my 45 years in dental practice I realized that dentistry was less about the technology of the day and more about making it work so that I could sleep at night, knowing I did my very best and spend time building a thriving practice and life.

Those who know me personally know that I spent a lot of time studying positive psychology. I found that the answers to the “big questions” that young dentists want to know, lie in positive leadership and communication. Along the way we want to do excellent dentistry.

Our culture rewards mediocrity. The word mediocre actually means “halfway up the mountain.” My feeling is that if we are going to take a journey up the mountain we might as well go all the way to the top…not just halfway. This books explains how to get to the top.

After reading this book I hope you will agree, that in today’s professional environment, our dental education does not equip young dentists to adequately deal with the leadership and communication skills necessary to practice truly excellent dentistry...dentistry that is not only satisfying for the patient but meaningful. Dentistry that is part of the bigger overall healthcare of our patients. This is not today’s dentistry.

Third parties and the forces outside of the profession have taken over how dentists practice. As I said I had some low points while writing the book…even I, while writing a book about positive leadership, sometimes heard a voice in my head saying, “what’s the use?”

In re-reading my own book I became even more inspired because leaders are never satisfied with the status quo (mediocrity?)—leaders are always about change. The status quo in the dental profession right now is at its lowest levels. It’s up to dentists to take on more of a leadership role—this die has not been cast.

If you read my book- and I hope you do—I would love to open up an ongoing conversation. If you feel the desire to share–please do. The book and the ideas are important.

 

Dental Schools (of Thought)

October 1, 2017

Filed under: Article,Happiness,Self-development — Barry @ 9:14 PM

Democracy was born in the middle of the 5th century bce in a little town known as Athens, Greece. I am sure you have heard of it.

Athens at that time was surrounded by the Persian Empire which spanned from Egypt in the west to Turkey in the north, through Mesopotamia to the Indus River in the east.

Sorry for the geography lesson but I am just trying to emphasize how difficult it must have been to try to develop a new political system during that time.

Democracy which literally means rule by the people, required the people to take on new responsibilities, and even though slavery still existed to some degree, it meant that most people were given their right to exercise their new freedom of choice.

In order for people to make the most out of their lives they needed an education system that taught young people the answers to their most pressing questions about “how to live a good life.” So parents sought to find teachers who could give their children a good education. In Athens there were many philosophers and many “schools of thought.”

Many of the teachers were disciples of Socrates, the first philosopher that spoke about the importance of looking inward for the key to happiness. His most famous students were Plato (The Academy) and Aristotle (Lyceum). Take note of the two guys standing front and center in the painting above (School of Athens by Rafael).

There was another disciple, Zeno of Citium. He was the headmaster of his school of thought…the Stoics. Other stoics you may be familiar with are Epictetus, Seneca and the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Zeno’s school taught a philosophy that was divided into three main subject areas: logos, physics and ethos. I know—it’s all Greek to you. Let me explain in modern terms.

Logos—This educational heading included general knowledge. It was believed that in order to become successful in Athens, students would have to understand how to put an argument together in a logical way, and then learn how to express it. This would benefit all those who chose to become lawyers, teachers, politicians and doctors (not many dentists back then).

Today, the subjects included under logos might be communication skills, problem solving, systems thinking, project management and teamwork. Specifically, for dentistry logos might include examination, diagnosis, treatment planning and presentation skills. I am sure most would agree that logos is quite important for success…the Stoics did.

Physics—This heading would be what Napoleon Hill would have called the specific skills for success. This is the area most Greek philosophers focused on before Socrates showed up speaking about the “Unexamined life.” It’s the stuff of science and the external world. In today’s world it’s biology, physics, chemistry, medicine…and all of the basic sciences. These are the subjects that actually make you who you are. Without them you cannot be a doctor or dentist. Yes—very important, and the reason why everyone goes to any school. In dentistry—it’s all technical dentistry.

And finally:

Ethos—This is the area of study that was most useful. It includes the personal skills. These are the skills that the Stoics considered important because they taught young people how to live the good life, or how to achieve eudaemonia. This course of study attempted to answer all of the questions surrounding the big question which is, “How do I live the good life?” In Ancient Greece it was the philosophers who were charged to teach this. Today it is the psychologists and neuroscientists. Some of the skills needed for personal well-being fall under emotional intelligence, resilience and decision-making. How important is ethos today? The Surgeon General once said that the number one healthcare problem in this country is the well-being of physicians…it’s important enough to teach, when the burnout rate of our physicians is approaching fifty percent.

In order to practice complete dentistry we must become complete dentists. Not in the sense that we do comprehensive dentistry but more so in the sense that we make sure everything is considered from the health and well-being of our patients to the health and well-being of ourselves and our careers. This should be the responsibility of the dental education system. Until that responsibility is taken more seriously we will only be offering dentists an incomplete education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Return of Centric Relation

September 12, 2017

Filed under: Technical dentistry — Tags: , — Barry @ 10:11 PM

 

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…you know that line from Star Wars. Well, in dentistry we had our own version and we called it Jaw Wars.

Many of you who practiced years ago are familiar with the occlusion wars between neuromuscular occlusion, centric relation and some of the lesser known philosophies. I remember getting caught up in endless debates about which occlusal method was better. Then the wars seemed to die down.

Other trends seemed to dominate dentistry. Boy—those were the good old days.

A few weeks ago on one of the more popular Facebook groups I saw a post that discussed the impossibility of being able to find and record a true centric relation position. The comments flowed—just like the old days.

The biggest difference that I noted was that many of the dentists weren’t arguing about which philosophy of occlusion was better but rather the difficulty of finding the position was leading many of the dentists to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abandon any occlusal philosophy.

I wondered why? The principles of occlusion hadn’t changed. But dentistry has changed. The way dentists practice today has drastically been altered. 

For whatever the reasons, it’s not a good idea to abandon a philosophical approach to dentistry because there are forces that are difficult to control...like the economy, third parties or corporate policies.

I remember debating with a “cosmetic dentist” about his article The Truth About CR. It was a heated debate that was carried on in the dental trade magazines. Today, I look back and wonder if it was about centric relation at all…or was it really about a philosophy of practice.

I liken it the question people ask about “what is the worst breakfast you can eat?” The answer is “no breakfast” is the worst breakfast. In dentistry – what is the worst occlusal philosophy? That’s right…no philosophy is the worst philosophy.

Occlusion is the foundation of complete dentistry. Too many dentists have focused on tooth dentistry and the current trends as they have relinquished control and their freedom of choice to the third parties.

A coherent philosophy of practice – and of life is still within the control of each and every one of us. If we all exercised that right, then maybe we can do something to bring dentistry back to the good old days.

 

Dentistry That Lasts

August 6, 2017

 

I started practicing dentistry in 1973…that’s 44 years ago. A lot has happened in those years. We went from the predominance of amalgam to chiefly metal free restorations. From bridgework to implants. I saw the advent of new materials, new equipment and all kinds of new technology.

Some of it, like veneers and implants, and digital radiographs changed dentistry. Other advances are now obsolete like air abrasion for cavity preparation. And some had questionable benefits, like computerized local anesthesia.

No matter how long you have been in dentistry I am sure you have seen many trends and fads come and go. That is why the best dentistry is principle centered dentistry.

I recently read a post on Facebook by an older very prominent dentist who confessed that as he got older he was becoming frustrated when he saw some of his work failing. He blamed it on patient’s non-compliance I sympathized with him. I too have gotten older and see the same phenomenon.

Years ago I bought into the idea of doing “predictable” dentistry – or dentistry that lasts. I came to realize through some pretty good mentors that the only way to get there was to do comprehensive relationship based dentistry. I was so taken by that concept that I wrote my first book, The Art of the Examination which spelled out the entire system. It’s that philosophy that attempts to create dentistry that lasts – not any trend or fad such as digital radiographs or lasers.

Younger dentists these days are enamored with the latest technology. The newer practices promote the latest fads and technologies rather than focus on great diagnosis, treatment planning and creating strong high quality relationships.

I came of age in dentistry when perennialism ruled. In other words we were taught everlasting principles that could create success through many generations. Preventative dentistry for example is a perennial philosophy. For those who have been around, I think you understand what I mean by some of the changes we see.

Less and less people see the dentist regularly. More and more full mouth implant cases are being done these days. Sure–a lot has happened culturally, politically and economically, but I still believe that comprehensive relationship based dentistry holds the answers to this cultural mismatch.

Comprehensive relationship based dentistry that is based on human universals which are features of a culture, society, behaviors, and psyche that stay consistent through time and place. These include leadership, trust, empathy and storytelling among many others.

We tend to throw the term comprehensive relationship based dentistry around as if it has lost its meaning. If we want to do our jobs properly with a sense of duty then we must do this type of dentistry.

Comprehensive means complete. If we do complete dentistry it starts with a complete exam in order to uncover every single etiologic factor of disease. Everyone knows that…it’s the practicing that makes it difficult. I am sure the dentist I mentioned above practices comprehensively.

It’s the second part—the relationship-based part where things get sticky. This is the part, I believe, that dentists truly have let go. Fully understanding and taking the time to create and maintain strong relationships is less common today than ever before. The cultural mismatch.

If the dentist is experiencing frustration because his or her work is failing because of non-compliance, then this can’t get fixed with more technical advances. These are relationship issues. These are leadership and communication issues. That is why it is impossible to do comprehensive dentistry with the human factor.

Dentistry is changing. The profession needs to step up from within. I see major gaps in thinking between the older generation of dentists and the younger dentists just starting out. There has been a paradigm shift. Blog posts and social media groups are questioning the future of dentistry.

Please weigh in with your feelings – what have you experienced and what do you see happening as we go into the future?

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Dentistry

July 19, 2017

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Uncategorized — Barry @ 10:20 AM

 

I keep getting asked the same question over and over again these days.

And I don’t like it.

You see, I am very sensitive about the way I look. I think I am in great shape, and I feel better than ever…the results of eating well, going to the gym and doing hot Yoga six days per week. I will be 70 years old at my next birthday…but…

My patients keep asking me when I am going to retire. They need to stop that! But really I have some mixed emotions about it.

On the one hand, I wonder why, all of a sudden patients are saying things like, “Hey Doc, you have to let me know when you’re going to retire,” or “Doc, I hope you give me plenty of notice before you retire so I can find another dentist.”

I wonder if they are just doing the math, because I don’t look or act any older. It’s happening so often that it is beginning to bother me. But I should be flattered.

After forty two years of practice what they are really saying (at least how I interpret it) is, “Thanks for taking care of me for all of these years.” In essence they are expressing the idea that they need me and that they appreciate me.

And that’s nice.

So often I hear how dentistry is a thankless profession. Sure there are those who thank us for specific things, and there are those patients who are naturally very grateful, but mostly we do our work without getting the recognition. And I am not speaking about that big beautiful cosmetic case. I am talking about everyday routine dentistry.

It’s nice to know that working hard for so many years to develop a relationship based practice, that the reward is the greatest reward of all…being needed, having practiced with a purpose for so many years. When I look around dentistry today, with the growth of insurance based practices and corporate dentistry I see these rewards diminishing in favor of transactional dental relationships – or strictly functional relationships.

Practicing dentistry with meaning and purpose is one of its greatest rewards. More than money – meaning and purpose will keep the dentist and staffs practicing longer and staying healthier and living longer. Research has shown that meaningful work can add years to your life.

So I come to work everyday and get greeted by my patient-friends who remind me daily how much being their dentist has meant to them, then I go on social media and get reminded how modern dentistry is today. I marvel at our technical advances yet see how much less human we have become. I see dentists flexing their muscles, showing off their beautiful cases but I wonder if they truly understand the longterm value and meaning of the relationships – or is it just about the teeth?

I see cases with no sense of diagnosis and treatment planning. I see cases presented by “financial people” who never get to understand the patients real needs and desires. I see some nice dentistry. I see some lousy dentistry but mostly I see evidence of people not being understood at a level this profession should be doing.

We could do better. Dentistry used to do a lot better. That is why I stayed “old school.” Maybe my patients are also saying something else…not only that they need me but that we truly miss the way dentists used to be…before these modern times.

 

 

 

 

What Good is Philosophy?

July 11, 2017

Filed under: Happiness,Positive Psychology,Self-development — Tags: — Barry @ 10:11 PM

 

 

Throughout my career in dentistry I have been known as a “philosopher.”  While many of my colleagues focused on technical dentistry in order to find fulfillment and success in dentistry, I read the works of Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius and Anthony Robbins looking for answers to life’s biggest questions. Just about everything I ever wrote offered a philosophical point of view.

And most people didn’t like it. One friend, many years ago, told me that philosophy just doesn’t sell. Yet I always believed in what the great motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “your personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out.” It seemed the more I spoke about philosophy, the more I annoyed people. Just ask my kids.

But I am hooked, so I continue to look for the answers to some of my biggest questions about life and work. I just happened to be a dentist so my work is dentistry.

Three of the biggest influences in my life have been Dr. L.D. Pankey’s philosophy which is based on Aristotle and the Greeks, Abraham Maslow and the humanistic psychology movement and most recently the work of Martin Seligman and positive psychology. The problem that I saw with all of these was not in the analytics or thought processes, but mostly in the application. In other words…how do you bring this stuff to real life?

Pankey’s philosophy was great. Once I learned to know myself, my patient and my work…I was still lost. The biggest void came in the “apply your knowledge” arm of his Cross. Maslow really turned my head around because now I understood why I couldn’t take the next steps without fulfilling basic needs. And until I had enough of the lower needs I couldn’t move up the hierarchy. Marty Seligman’s PERMA model was the one that really opened my eyes because now I finally knew that philosophy was based in real science. My last book, Short Guide to a Long Career explains his PERMA model in detail- and how to apply it in dental practice.

Seligman recently added a “V” to his model. It stands for VITALITY.

And the “V” ends up being a key to the whole puzzle of application.

When one reads his Well-Being Theory, there is an implication that we follow it as it reads—P-E-R-M-A-V. Maybe that’s just because I am a dentist and see life very linearly…dentists like step-by-step instructions.

Allow me to digress. Those of you who have read The Art of the Examination know that I am a type 2 diabetic. I have been for thirty years, and for all of those years I have controlled my blood sugar with diet and exercise.

But no longer. I recently went on insulin. No biggie…really. When you go on insulin it forces you to become even more aware of the cellular and micro-changes of diet and exercise. I now pay much more attention to basic biochemistry—yes I now realize just how philosophically important the Krebs Cycle is to all of our lives. Metabolism – is the key to our lives and our vitality.

Metabolism is the key to our energy – and how we create and spend our energy is how we live our lives. Most of us concentrate on managing time and money to create successful lives…but I implore you that the payoffs are much greater when we focus on managing our energy.

Throughout my entire career, looking back, it was high amounts of positive energy that was responsible for most of my successes.

So what is the lesson here? That the V…the Vitality module of Marty Seligman’s Well-Being Theory is the starting point for a successful life. The V includes diet, exercise, mindfulness meditation and sleep hygiene. Once the V is covered, you will have the energy to exercise more willpower to make better choices and focus on being more optimistic, more resilient, applying more effort and more grit, better focus and concentration in developing better skills, using your strengths, building better and more fulfilling connections, working with meaning and purpose…and of course…accomplishing much more.

 

 

Do You Have to be Happy to be Successful?

April 17, 2017

Filed under: Happiness,Pankey,Positive Psychology — Barry @ 1:41 PM

 

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only expressing personal opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

 

 

This is my first blog post in a long while. I bet many of my readers thought I just quit blogging. That is not in my nature…let me explain.

I just completed an eight month certification in positive psychology. It was intense. Most people truly don’t understand what positive psychology is all about.

On the night I received my certification we had dinner with friends of ours. I told them that I had completed my certification and the my friend started talking about positive psychology as if she were an expert. Then she asked how I could be a positive psychologist because I wasn’t so positive…or even happy for that matter.

For those of you who have read my book, A Short Guide to a Long Career (free download), you know that positive psychology is much more than being about finding bliss (although that is part of it). It’s about living the life worth living. It’s about living the good life.

Anyway, I went on to explain to my friend that positive psychology was more about living the good life. More about fulfillment than pleasure than the smiley face. The good life is more than just having fun. It is about building good days, one after the other so that we can accomplish what author Annie Dillard says: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

Our well-being is mostly composed of our work, how we spend our time and who we spend our time with. In other words, what we do for a living, and who we do it with matters. When we ask ourselves the very important question, “what really matters?” our answers usually reflect work, family friends and service.

So, no…positive psychology is not just happiology.

I first became interested in positive psychology when I went to the Pankey Institute many years ago. L.D. Pankey was onto something when he created his “philosophy.” My gut tells me he would have been very interested in studying positive psychology which wasn’t defined until 1998 by Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania.

He put science to philosophy and created the psychology of optimal human functioning…or how to flourish. Yes…today most of Pankey’s philosophy is backed by empirical evidence…and there are so many new ways to apply the knowledge.

Practical application is the key to any philosophy – and that is where most philosophy falls apart.

I meet so many people who do not put a lot of stock into the “softer,” human side of  work. Today there is an overemphasis on technology. They think the soft stuff–the fuzzy stuff is just pop psychology.

After finishing my certification I can tell you that dentistry needs to take this very seriously…for the well-being of every professional as well as the well-being of the profession itself.

Not only have I completed this program but I also completed another book which should be available in the Fall. The book is titled The Complete Dentist–Positive Leadership Skills for Success.

Yes–I have been busy, but I will be bringing you more and more articles and information on this very important topic. It just may be the key to your own career and well-being.

 

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