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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​March 22, 2019  Noted psychologist Abraham Maslow, the man who created Maslow’s hierarchy of needs said, “If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.”
Enlarging on that, self-improvement is a tool belt filled with tips and techniques, each effective for a specific situation. A pipe wrench isn’t designed for carpentry. 
Similarly, choosing to build a better life with one ‘mental tool’ is cognitive bias––deviating from rationality. Have more tools in your tool belt, more available options for addressing difficult situations. 
Let’s talk about my tool belt, Terry’s Tool Belt, if you will. Not all that creative, but proof of ownership. These are my tools.
AFFIRMATION. An affirmation is a positive, inspiring thought that I actively recite to myself and until it “sticks.” Find an affirmation that works for you and put it in your tool-belt. 
I think about the adage “by the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard it’s too damn hard,” because it helps me avoid being overwhelmed by a large task. 
MEDITATION. Focus awareness on a single object; train your mind to avoid distraction. REFRAMING. This is a favorite.Whenever you realize your attitude is negative or destructive reframe your perspective. Look at the situation from a more positive and constructive viewpoint. Spot at a flat tire and be grateful it’s only one tire not three. Oops, that’s over-framing.
VISUALIZATION. Mentally rehearse a new behavior inside your mind so you are prepared to use that behavior in the real world when confronted by a particular situation. Slow down when approaching an intersection––never gun it and get caught by photo-radar as the light changes.
NUDGES. Set alerts on your phone to remind you to do a chore, remember a birthday or return a call. Nudges preempt nagging spouses from swinging into action.
LISTS. Use liststo refresh your mind, to remember and be grateful for all the good things in your life. Lists can also help you measure how far you have come or what you need to do going forward. 
Create your own tool belt; name it if you like. Make sure it has tools for both offense and defense. Fill as many pockets as necessary. Leave room for new tools when needed.
No matter the situation, you’ll have it nailed.
 

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Bob Cayne

​​​​Terry Martin Ph.D​

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Bob Cayne

Healthcare Advocate

IF I HAD A HAMMER

Reflections on Life

Healthcare Advocate. The latest Medical and Healthcare News right here every day and on Twitter. My weekly column Why Is That?explores life's good, bad and ludicrous sides.

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March 22, 2019  I ran across a column: Why do patients call me by my first name?  by Dr. Karen J. Fahey. It got me thinking about respect for the medical profession.
Flashback: The first thing that came to mind was Raymond J. Johnson who made a career out of the line “You can call me Ray, or you can call me RJJ…but you doesn’t hasta call me Johnson.”
So, what should we call our doctors?
I called our family doctor Doc. He wanted everybody to call him Doc, yet I was only seven or eight at the time and hardly old enough to express such familiarity. My parents taught me to mind my p’s and q’s, they were sticklers for formality and proper manners. I grew up to realize that medicine is a noble profession. Doctors heal; they cure disease and deserve respect.
Patients should inherit some of those traits.
The golf course introduced me to doctors on a first name basis. I’ve dug divots with heart surgeons; an orthodontist sank a putt that cost me a match. I shared golf carts with a gastroenterologist and a pediatric cardiologist. I’ve never been paired with a nurse, and our veterinarian didn’t play golf so I can’t claim a Medical Grand Slam.
Doctors wear Bermuda shorts on a golf course like the rest of us, but when they don a lab coat they command respect. In case you don’t know length has special meaning like gold braid on a military officer’s cap. An embroidered name identifies the doctor–for sure, the garment isn’t ‘off a rack.’
I learned that doctors deserve to be called Doctor. Then reverse psychology took over. I’m old enough to be my dermatologist’s grandfather. “Hello, Mr. Cayne,” she said when we first met, “I’m Doctor Latowsky.” I stood up and stuck out my paw, “Hello Brenda,” I said. “Please call me Bob.” 
I lived in Cleveland for decades, knew Cleveland Clinic doctors and was operated on there. The sterile Clinic atmosphere even carried over to private practice. Calling your physician Doctor honored their profession.
Then I moved to Arizona where rigid formality meets laid-back. People put Santa Claus hats on their saguaro cactus at Christmas. A thing like that comes as a shock. At Scottsdale’s Mayo Clinic patients in shorts and flip-flops outnumber doctors in pearly white coats, but not by much. 
Nearby, my eye doctor David Johnson, MD wears floral patterned Hawaiian shirts and has since I met him twenty years ago. Mayo doctors work in teams. They are so buttoned down that you fear for what they are about to tell you. Both David Johnson and my primary care doctor Joseph Rotella, MD (who dressed up as Fonzi on Halloween) are as close to visiting friends as you can get when you show up for an appointment.
And they call me Bob, they doesn’t hasta call me Mr. Cayne.


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