Guest Post: Sandy Carter on Bonsai, Simplicity, and Joy

Marie Kondo writes of love, joy and the beauty of simplicity in a manner that inspired me to utilize her principles in a recent downsizing experience, which changed my life. For years, I have intuitively created space I felt appreciative of, but our recent move presented challenges we hadn’t faced before as we reduced our living space by seventy-five percent.

Bonsai Tree

Our house was filled with possessions we had collected over many years from travels; heirlooms passed onto us by family members and childhood mementos from our children’s growing up years. We felt attached to most everything, and knew what displayed beautifully in our present home would clutter our new space and over stimulate us and we had to make a huge change.


Using Ms. Kondo’s book as a reference, we let go of our things in layers over time and succeeded in choosing what we needed to accompany us as we opened a new life chapter. With her philosophy guiding us, we now live in beautiful and joyous space. The process was not easy, but well worth the effort.


My life has personally changed because I’m been more mindful of the choices I’m making. Surrounded only by things I love has helped me embody wellbeing in more depth. Another gift related to experiencing joy is co-writing a blog with Dave on the topic. Because of this, I’ve trained myself to be aware of joy’s presence again and again. As I’ve focused my attention, I’ve engaged with more subtle experiences of joy in others and myself.


One such joyous occasion occurred with a recent experience between my father and me. Dad told me he was going to buy himself a birthday present. I listened half amused and half curious, wondering what my 88-year-old father had in mind. My father is an example of graceful aging. He is continually appreciative of life’s blessings and surprises my siblings and me all the time, as he lives his life with zeal, seeking new opportunities to learn and grow. Unpredictable as ever, when Dad declared he was going to purchase a Bonsai Tree I was stunned, and asked him if I could go along. I had no idea Dad was interested in this ancient Chinese art form and thought sharing this experience with him would be worthwhile. An idea I am grateful I had, as there are times when I’m too caught up in my world to take advantage of such gifts.


Although the word Bonsai is Japanese, the practice originated in China. In 600 AD the Chinese started using special techniques to grow dwarf trees and they eventually became very valuable and were offered as luxurious gifts throughout China. Later, Japan adopted the Chinese tradition basing the art on Zen Buddhism influence and referred to the practice as Bonsai. Not long ago, the idea spread beyond Asian culture and into other countries. My Dad researched possibilities for a Bonsai Tree purchase in his area, and we headed to a retail establishment called the Bonsai House.


The Bonsai House is a small house transformed into a retail shop for the sale of Bonsai trees. The space is filled with hundreds of Bonsai trees of various shapes, sizes and varieties. A Chinese couple owns the business and the woman not only has a passion for Bonsai trees, but a vast knowledge regarding them. While Dad and I looked at the Bonsai’s, she educated us on the history, types and care of these ancient and beautiful trees. What we discovered is that Bonsai trees can live for several generations, and caring for them can be a deeply satisfying personal experience. Dad insisted we choose a tree together. Although, we did not speak of it in so many words, we knew the tree’s care could be passed onto me and possibly outlive both of us. We had no idea Bonsai shopping would bring us face to face with our mortality. This could have been a depressing thought, but instead it had the opposite effect as we decided on the tree that needed to go home with us.


After our purchase, we left to drive back to the retirement community. As my Dad and I sat side by side in the car we shared a joyous silence reveling in our good fortune of being together and sharing this experience. Later, we put into words what we’d both been feeling. We agreed, no matter what hardships have passed or what may come, having these precious times together brings us much joy and happiness!

Choose Joy

A Work of Joy.5 Spark Joy: What Sparks Joy for You?


This is the fifth of a series of blog posts examining Joy in Work. We have been calling it: A Work of Joy! It is part of an ongoing discussion between Dave Kopacz and Sandy Carter on this topic and will include each of our thoughts individually as well as our dialogue on Joy in Work. This fifth blog looks at the work of Marie Kondo (who has been called the Beyoncé of Organizing), The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and her new book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. Sandy had consulted Kondo’s first book when she was recently down-sizing. We turn to her second book, Spark Joy, not so much for tidying up, but rather for her method of determining whether or not something brings you joy. Kondo writes, “I am convinced that the perspective we gain through this process represents the driving force that can make not only our lifestyle, but our very lives, shine,” (xii).


Kondo’s method is surprisingly simple, yet helps to get you out of your logical mind and in touch with your heart.  Here is what she says to determine if something sparks joy for you.


“When deciding, it’s important to touch it, and by that, I mean holding it firmly in both hands as if communicating with it. Pay close attention to how your body responds when you do this. When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells of your body are slowly rising. When you hold something that doesn’t bring you joy, however, you will notice that your body feels heavier,” (8).


In regards to organizing, she writes that you should focus on what things bring you joy and that you want to keep, not on trying to get rid of things just for the sake of getting rid of things. Even with the things you discard, however, Kondo invites you to connect with and communicate with.


“Keep only those things that bring you joy. And when you discard anything that doesn’t, don’t forget to thank it before saying good-bye. By letting go of things that have been in your life with a feeling of gratitude, you foster appreciation for, and a desire to take better care of, the things in your life,” (8).


What Kondo is doing is inviting us to get in touch with the soul of things, to see how your heart resonates with the soul of the object, and if you are going to discard it, to honor the soul of the objects that are exiting your life. This reminds me, in some ways, of the world view of many Native American people, that all things are alive and are our brothers and sisters. Maybe this part of mainstream American culture’s emphasis on the accumulation of things, we do not connect to the soul of things and thus we never feel joy in our hearts and keep on accumulating objects.


When starting to practice determining what sparks joy in your life, Kondo recommends starting with the clothing that you wear closest to your heart, “Because that’s where you feel joy―in your heart, not in your head,” (18). This reinforces that joy, whether in tidying or in work, comes from the heart, not the head. It shows why an intellectual solution to a lack of joy will not be successful unless it partners with the heart.


After going through your belongings, object by object, you can get to where everything you have sparks some joy. “When you wear and surround yourself with things you love, your house becomes your own personal paradise,” (26). Kondo also sees objects as being capable of being transformed by love and that this can be felt as well as the physical elements of the object. So the act of loving something is part of how that object brings joy.


“I’m convinced that things that have been loved and cherished acquire elegance and character. When we surround ourselves only with things that spark joy and shower them with love, we can transform our home into a space filled with precious artifacts, our very own art museum,” (47).


In looking at Marie Kondo’s book, Spark Joy, and her method of tidying, we can use this in several ways in regard to our larger focus of Joy in Work. The first level is the level of our surroundings and our physical workspace. We could use this method of looking at the objects around us and asking if they bring joy. Many things in a medical environment are necessary and utilitarian, we may not be able to say, “This blood pressure cuff does not bring me joy, so I am going to let it go!” We can declutter both our own personal workspace as well as shared work spaces. Shared workspaces tend to accumulate things that apparently belong to no one and we just work around them. The next aspect of this level is adding some seasoning to our work space, bringing in something that sparks joy for us. Again we may have restrictions on certain items in a medical setting, but a plant, a small vase, a little animal figurine, a favorite book, a nice pen, a colorful note pad, even an inspirational saying written on a notecard can bring joy to a personal work space. Some people in medical settings do not have a personal work space, in that case, you have to put the joy on your person (a pin, jewelry, a pen you like) or you could take on the task of bringing some joy to your collective workspace – see if you can put up a picture, bring in a plant, or even something temporary like a small vase of flowers.


Kondo teaches us that there are three common elements that determine joy, “the actual beauty of the object itself (innate attraction), the amount of love that has been poured into it (acquired attraction), and the amount of history or significance it has accrued (experiential value),” (45). Thus, it is important to realize that joy is not a static trait of an object, it is also increased by the love and enjoyment that we have with an object. For instance, I have a pair of non-descript gardening gloves. I didn’t feel joy necessarily when I bought them, but they are very comfortable and now, after using them for a couple years, they bring me joy. Also, the factor of time, I have been using them now for a while and they hold many happy memories of digging in the dirt. I like using my bare hands too, and getting dirt under my fingernails, but some jobs, like pruning a rose bush are better done with gardening gloves. These gloves now feel like a second skin to me. It is important to realize that even something plain and utilitarian can be infused with joy from years of love and use. Joy is not a one-way street. We are not separate and isolated from the physical world, but can be in a love relationship with the earth and the physical world of matter.


Our surroundings are an important part of our health, although medical settings often do not create joyful or healing environments. At the VA, we are implementing work coming out of the national VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. In particular, we are using the Circle of Health and have developed a Whole Health Class that rotates through 8 different health domains over 8 weeks. One of those domains is “Surroundings: Physical & Emotional,” and we work with Veterans to generate ideas around little ways that they can make their surroundings more health promoting. In my book, Re-humanizing Medicine, I also have a dimension of “context” which looks at our physical and situational environment.


VA Circle of Health

The main reason I wanted to blog about Marie Kondo’s book was not simply for the physical work space issues, but for the method she uses of helping us sensitize and train our hearts to be open and attuned to joy in our lives. Joy is not something you can mandate and joy will be different for each person. To spark joy, we need to make room for our hearts in our work. Administration can do many things to either diminish joy or enhance joy, but ultimately, it is up to us to show up for the joy revolution, by attending to our hearts and bringing them to work each day, and by discerning what it is that we need around us in order to nurture our joy.



A Work of Joy.2 – What is Joy in Work, Where has it Gone? How can We Bring it Back?

What is Joy in Work, Where has it gone, How can We bring it Back?

This is the second in a series of blog posts examining Joy in Work. It is part of an ongoing discussion between Dave Kopacz and Sandy Carter on this topic and will include each of our thoughts individually as well as our dialogue on Joy in Work. This second blog outlines Sandy’s initial thoughts on Joy in Work.

Sandy Carter, Ph.D. works as a physician coach and consultant. Sandy is a professional certified coach, holds a PhD in organizational management with a specialization in leadership, and Masters in Business Administration and Social Work. Her research is in the area of transformational leadership with physicians, and wellness and resiliency.


What is Joy? How is it different from happiness?

Sandy Carter:

Joy is a state of mind and an orientation of the heart. It is a combination of emotions and contains elements of contentment, confidence, and hope. Joy has more depth, meaning and purpose than happiness. Being joyful means feeling connected to yourself and/or others in life, nature, and appreciating beauty. It requires an acceptance for how life is (not how you’d like it to be), by living in the present. Joy comes from within! It is a sustainable emotional experience that alters our physiology and biochemistry promoting a sense of wellbeing that promotes resilience and supports immune health. In the Biblical sense, Joy is not an emotion, and it is not linked to environmental conditions, but is an attitude of the heart and spirit. It is where internal peace and contentment reside, in spite of, what’s happening ones’   life.


Happiness is subjective – it can mean different things to different people and is more of a momentary state of being. Happiness is an emotional state of wellbeing defined by positive feelings that can range from contentment to intense Joy!

Savor the Moment

Why is Joy/happiness important?

 Joy and happiness are connected to wellbeing and are valued as essential for individuals to thrive in their work and personal lives.  On March 20, 2013, the first ever International Day of Happiness was celebrated around the world. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution to promote happiness as a universal goal and aspiration for people everywhere. The UN is urging governments to start measuring wellbeing as a guide to creating public policy. This has roots in the field of sustainable development. The UN recognizes by measuring gross domestic product (GPD) we are placing overemphasize on materialism and incomes (that beyond a certain point) does not enhance life satisfaction.

International Happiness Day

Additionally, by enhancing our overall wellbeing we can directly impact the high costs of healthcare and help create healthier work cultures that can improve hospital safety concerns (medical errors and complications). While working in cultures where there is blame/shame people tend to be hyper-vigilant and low trust. This level of stress impacts energy levels, judgment and health. Often leading to lost revenue from absenteeism, turnover, disability, insurance costs, workplace accidents, violence, workers’ compensation, and lawsuits, etc.

The United States is the most overworked developed nation in the world. Working is not necessarily the problem. If you love what you do, are doing it for the right reasons and can rest and restore – work can be a wonderful thing. However, far too many Americans are driven to work more and more (based on scarcity values of feeling like they don’t have enough) which leads to stress and lower quality of life. Leaving many people without time to unwind, take care of themselves or their homes. Vital connections are lost to friends and family. These kinds of circumstances lead to isolation, loneliness, and burnout. When all of this becomes overwhelming and can lead to coping strategies, further stress and deteriorate health.  Stress is the #1 cause of both mental and physical health problems. Many workers today are burned out and pressured causing heightened anxiety, depression and disease.

Overburdened Doctor

Biology of Joy:

People who experience upper reaches of happiness on psychological tests develop about 50% more antibodies than average. It’s also been discovered that mental states such as hopefulness appear to reduce the risk or limit the risk of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Joy, happiness, and positive emotions make your immune system function better, help you fight disease, and even live longer.

Herbert Benson has done research on the Relaxation Response. By initiating the Relaxation Response, we can experience a physical state of deep rest that counteracts the harmful effects of the fight-or-flight response. If we can let go of bad stress, our brains can rearrange themselves neurologically so that the two hemispheres communicate better, and problem solving becomes easier.

Relaxation Response

Stress, Eustress & Joy

The problem is we don’t take care of ourselves very well. For example, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a mandatory option for new parents to take parental leave. Furthermore, 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of a workweek and the U.S. does not. A large percentage (85.8% male and 66.5% females) work more than a 40-hour workweek. We also are the only nation in the industrialized world that has no legally mandated annual leave and very short vacation times compared to Europe.

Unmanaged stress can be destructive, and… stress also has a positive benefit. Eustress or good stress provides us with energy and motivates us to produce. When we are utilizing eustress, we find clarity, focus, and creative insight.

Joyful Doctor

Joy at work is essential. It is a vital energy in sustaining high levels of passion, performance, and productivity. Meaningful work is about uncovering and utilizing our true gifts.

In these times of unprecedented change, it is vital that we are connected to a deeper, natural energy source from within.

Stress is an essential response in highly competitive environments – it focuses you, but past a certain point it compromises your performance, efficiency and eventually your health. We are at that point today as physicians experience burnout at epidemic levels and commit suicide at a rate higher than the general public.

Poetry describing what it means to live joyfully




Every day

I see or I hear


that more or less


kills me

with delight,

that leaves me

like a needle


in the haystack

of light,

it is what I was born for—

to look, to listen,


to lose myself

inside this soft world—

to instruct myself

over and over


in joy,

and acclamation.

Nor am I talking

about the exceptional,


the fearful, the dreadful,

the very extravagant—

but of the ordinary,

the common, the very drab,


the daily presentations.

Oh, good scholar,

I say to myself,

how can you help


but grow wise

with such teachings

as these–

the untrimmable light


of the world,

the ocean’s shine,

the prayers that are made

out of grass?


Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early, 2004

Mary Oliver

David Whyte on JOY

is the meeting place of deep intentionality and self forgetting, the bodily alchemy of what lies inside us in communion with what formally seemed outside, but is now neither, but become a living frontier, a voice speaking between us and the world: dance, laughter, affection, skin touching skin, singing in the car, music in the kitchen, the quiet irreplaceable and companionable presence of a daughter: the sheer intoxicating beauty of the world inhabited as an edge between what we previously thought was us and what we thought was other than us.

Joy can be made by practiced, hard-won achievement as much as by an unlooked for, passing act of grace arriving out of nowhere; joy is a measure of our relationship to death and our living with death, joy is the act of giving ourselves away before we need to or are asked to, joy is practiced generosity. If joy is a deep form of love, it is also the raw engagement with the passing seasonality of existence, the fleeting presence of those we love understood as gift, going in and out of our lives, faces, voices, memory, aromas of the first spring day or a wood-fire in winter, the last breath of a dying parent as they create a rare, raw, beautiful frontier between loving presence and a new and blossoming absence.

To feel a full and untrammeled joy is to have become fully generous; to allow our selves to be joyful is to have walked through the doorway of fear, the dropping away of the anxious worried self felt like a thankful death itself, a disappearance, a giving away, overheard in the laughter of friendship, the vulnerability of happiness felt suddenly as a strength, a solace and a source, the claiming of our place in the living conversation, the sheer privilege of being in the presence of a mountain, a sky or a well loved familiar face – I was here and you were here and together we made a world.

‘JOY’ David Whyte

From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words


David Whyte.3


Meaningful work is by far the primary motivator for engagement, and experiencing excitement and joy in one’s work. Today, in healthcare organizations the environments are toxic, as the conditions for creating opportunities for meaningful work are not met.

Conditions of meaningful work include: worker autonomy, having sufficient resources and an opportunity to learn from problems. Currently, many physicians have lost their autonomy, are told to do more with less and work in toxic cultures. These are environments where it’s not safe to expose vulnerability for growth and development, and we know working in environments where there is mutual respect is critical to finding meaning and joy. A precondition for a culture of safety in the workplace is the protection of the physical and psychological safety of the workforce. Joy in the workplace comes from an appreciation of the human spirit and organizational support for developing capabilities.

Conditions for meaningful work also comes from having leaders who are a resource for enabling physicians/others by removing obstacles, providing support and acknowledging/validating strong effort and successful outcomes. When people engage in work at this level – community spirit, innovation and creativity flourishes. Most adults in the U.S. spend more hours at work than anywhere else… work should “ennoble, not kill, the human spirit.”

A Work of Joy.1 < What is Joy in Work, Where has it Gone, How can We bring it Back?

This is the first of a series of blog posts examining Joy in Work – maybe we’ll call it: A Work of Joy! It is part of an ongoing discussion between Dave Kopacz and Sandy Carter on this topic and will include each of our thoughts individually as well as our dialogue on Joy in Work. This first blog will provide a broad outline for subsequent work. We will each start with a monologue and move from there into dialogue.

Dave Kopacz, M.D. works as a psychiatrist at the VA in Primary Care Mental Health Integration. Prior to this he was Clinical Director at Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. He is Board certified in Psychiatry and Integrative & Holistic Medicine. He is the author of Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine.


Sandy Carter, Ph.D. works as a physician coach and consultant. Sandy is a professional certified coach, holds a PhD in organizational management with a specialization in leadership, and Masters in Business Administration and Social Work. Her research is in the area of transformational leadership with physicians, and wellness and resiliency.She heads The Center for Physician Leadership Coaching. 


What is joy in work?

Where has it gone?

How can we bring it back?

Dave: To speak of joy in work can seem like an oxymoron – work is work, after all, isn’t it? The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the roots of “work” as having elements of toil as well as creativity, it can mean a military fortification as well as an artistic labor, Mark Twain wisely points out that the difference between work and play is a matter of conditions or attitude.

Very busy business

Very busy business

Old English weorc…“something done…action (whether voluntary or required)… also “physical labor, toil; skilled trade, craft, or occupation…” “military fortification,” from Proto-Germanic werkan…from Proto-Indian-European werg-o-…“to do…”

Meaning “physical effort, exertion” is from c. 1200; meaning “scholarly labor” or its productions is from c. 1200; meaning “artistic labor” or its productions is from c. 1200…Meaning “embroidery, stitchery, needlepoint” is from late 14c. Work of art attested by 1774 as “artistic creation,” earlier (1728)…

“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.” [Mark Twain]

“Work,” Online Etymology Dictionary, accessed 11/6/15 

We have a wide range of roots and definitions for the word “work,” at its most simple it is “to do,” and our judgements on that doing determine whether we view it as work or play, hard or easy, meaningless or meaningful. Doing for no reason feels meaningless and tedious, but Doing that is meaningful is rewarding, even if the work is difficult. Sandy notes that we can meet high demands if we have high resources – so in this way success in work depends not only on the external conditions and needs, but also our individual, relational and organizational resources.


In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we read early on in the Bible that human beings have been cast out of the Garden of Eden for their transgression of eating from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. God curses Adam and Eve and their descendants, saying that man must earn his living from the ground with toil and that woman must give birth in pain. We have this deeply ingrained belief that our relationship with work and with our bodies is one that is filled with pain – not joy – and that we have the guilt of “original sin” that taints our lives in this world. (Not all theologian ascribe to this idea, for instance Matthew Fox writes in Original Blessing that there are other spiritual perspectives we can take in the relationship between spirit and matter and that we can find joy in our work in the world).

Original Blessing.2

However, there is also a long tradition in all religions of a sense of joy and joyousness that come from the mystical connection with Spirit. Dorothee Soelle, in her work on mysticism in, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, lists five domains of mystical experience: Nature, Eroticism, Suffering, Community, and Joy. She describes joy as a state of being, rather than a sense of acquisition or momentary pleasure.

The Silent Cry

“In the mystical sense, joy is something not tied to objects or certain experiences of delight. Joy is a matter of ‘rejoicing in’ rather than of being ‘glad about,’” (The Silent Cry, 179).

Henry Van Dyke wrote “The Hymn of Joy,” written in English and set to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which, in turn was inspired by Schiller’s poem, “Ode to Joy.” Here are Van Dyke’s lyrics as an example of spiritual joy.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,

God of glory, Lord of love;

hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,

Opening to the Sun above,

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;

drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness,

fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,

earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,

stars and angels sing around Thee,

center of unbroken praise:

Field and forest, vale and mountain,

Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,

chanting bird and flowing fountain,

call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,

ever blessing, ever blest,

well-spring of the joy of living,

ocean-depth of happy rest!

Thou the Father, Christ our Brother,—

all who live in love are Thine:

Teach us how to love each other,

lift us to the Joy Divine.

Mortals join the mighty chorus,

which the morning stars began;

Father-love is reigning o’er us,

brother-love binds man to man.

Ever singing, march we onward,

victors in the midst of strife;

joyful music lifts us sunward

in the triumph song of life

(“The Hymn of Joy,” Wikipedia, accessed 11/6/15)

Ode to Joy combined 9x12 with tab

Work is our action in the world. Joy is the sense of connection to the greater meaning and purpose in our work.

Rael, Joseph 2

Native American visionary, Joseph Rael was taught by his grandmother that “work is worship,” (Ceremonies of the Living Spirit, 22). This brings a different perspective to work, as in the Native American tradition, every action is sacred and there is no separation between spirit and matter. Zen Buddhism takes a similar approach of spiritualizing mundane tasks, such as “polishing the mirror” or “chop wood, carry water.” In the tradition of Kashmiri Saivism, the ultimate Reality is considered to be “a compact mass of bliss (cidānandaghana),” (Dyczkowski, The Doctrine of Vibration, 44). The ultimate union of Being-Consciousness-Bliss is called “saccidānanada.”

Doctrine of Vibration

This is the “Sat, Chit, Ananda,” that Joseph Campbell speaks of when, after studying the wisdom of the Hindu tradition, he coined the phrase, “follow your bliss,” (Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, 149, 285).

Follow your bliss

In this work that we are undertaking, joy will refer to something deeper than a passing emotion such as happiness or the momentary satisfaction of a desire. We will be looking at joy as the underlying substrate of our Being. This comes from a sense of unity within ourselves and a sense of unity and connection with others. To put it very simply, suffering comes from separation and disconnection and joy emerges from a sense of deep connection and unity within one’s self, between self and other, and within community.

Jack Kornfeld, in his foreword to Awakening Joy, addresses this deeper level of joy. “Joy is our birthright…it is innate to consciousness. Joy is a reflection of our true nature,” (Baraz and Alexander, Awakening Joy, xiii-xiv). Kornfeld describes joy in such a way that we can imagine it to be the foundation of our life, the deep, internal ocean currents, strong and perpetual, beneath the passing, tossing waves of the ups and downs of our daily emotional life. The authors of this book (who have been teaching courses on awakening joy since 2003) describe that having a sense of joy is a choice. “Our joy and happiness is up to us. Our suffering and well-being is not solely determined by what’s happening in our present circumstances but to a large degree by our relationship to what is happening,” (Awakening Joy, xviii).

awakening to joy

Joy, in the way we will be discussing it, relates to connection, innate birthright, choice and a spiritual wisdom perspective on life.

The reason that we need to be talking about joy in the work of health care is because it has been lost in most health care work environments: physician burnout, patient dissatisfaction, long wait times, short appointment times, complicated insurance bureaucracies, costly co-payments and deductibles (for those lucky enough to have insurance) – in short, joyless experiences in giving, receiving, managing, and reimbursing health care. We take a holistic perspective that these variables cannot be dealt with in an isolated way: patient satisfaction cannot be considered without staff well-being and without considering the human needs of administrative and leadership staff. It is all of one piece. That is what we learn when we set off in search of joy – just like in the Wizard of Oz, we already have it within ourselves, but we must set off on a journey of self-exploration in which we support each other’s quest to realize and manifest what it is that we have lost or felt we never had in the first place.

In this joyful work we are undertaking, we will draw on diverse fields of human study, both ancient and modern, including: mysticism, spirituality, poetry, personal growth, well-being, positive psychology, business, economics, leadership, neuroscience, systems theory and relational science. We will look at how to manifest joy at the individual level, interpersonal level and communal level. Fundamental to manifesting joy at all these levels is the principle of connection – connection to dimensions of Self, connection between individuals, and connection in groups and communities. Joy is an emergent property that manifests from a sense of deep connection. We will then look at practical applications of joy at each of these levels and also in relation to leadership in health care and models of health care reform, such as the Triple Aim of the Institute for Health Care Improvement.

Next week we will publish Sandy’s monologue, then the dialogue will start…

A Work of Joy!