John D. Kelly IV, MD, is a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. He focuses his blog on helping surgeons reduce stress while achieving balance in their practices and families.

A resilient life requires daily decisions

Sometimes “hard calls” can be challenging. Decisions which encourage close relationships – especially decision about family – will bring more lifetime peace than decisions based on secular considerations.

Wayne M. Sotile, PhD, a noted psychologist and stress expert, refrains that resiliency is about how we mange emotions and relationships. I have repeatedly mentioned the virtue of mindfulness, or living in the moment, as a means of managing one’s emotions. The other half of the resiliency formula is keeping relationships in repair, especially spouses and children.

I would like to share one decision I made recently which has yielded great dividends in nurturing closeness with my daughter.

Quick decision

I was at a meeting at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting, listening to the agenda when suddenly my daughter, Ann Marie, called. I answered and immediately noted that she was sobbing. She had suffered a major disappointment at college and was clearly heartsick and distraught. I could feel the anguish over the phone and did everything I could verbally to calm and reassure her. After several minutes of attempted consolation, I hung up and turned to a trusted friend sitting next to me and asked his advice. He looked at me squarely in the eye and said “you need to drop everything and be with your daughter now.” The answer resonated within me and I immediately called my wife, who agreed. We quickly departed for our daughter’s campus, which thankfully was only a 2-hour drive from Chicago.

Yes, I missed several other important meetings, but I spent 2 fulfilling days with my daughter. The trip was fruitful as my wife and I successfully brought solace to Ann Marie with lots of hugs, meals together and mere quality presence. My wife and I were able to buoy our daughter’s spirits significantly and we left her campus with a feeling of deep peace. I may have missed the remainder of the AAOS meeting, but I did not miss it one iota.

Resiliency just doesn’t happen

Fame and fortune are fleeting but relationships, especially family relationships, define the quality of our lives. If you want to leave your “mark” on the world, start with your family. The resilient mindset just doesn’t happen. It is intentional. We make decisions every day which lead to peace or despair.

I could not tell you who the president of the AAOS was 3 years ago. But I will remember those 2 precious days with my daughter for the rest of my life. And so will my daughter.