Posted by Meg Soper, 24-03-2012

Whether you are a wide eyed graduate or wily veteran, this amazing profession bonds us together because our work touches people everywhere across this vast nation. You may have to travel a desolate logging road to a remote First Nation community or brave the mayhem of a 16 lane highway in your daily commute to work, but once there we are bonded by a single powerful thread: the work we each do makes a big difference in the lives of our patients, clients, colleagues and residents.

Each of us has the power to create a positive environment at work, at home and within ourselves. Humour can help us make an even bigger difference in our professional lives by helping us build stronger connections with those around us. When we work together as a team and communicate effectively…we can perform at our best and still be energized at the end of the day.

As a Registered Nurse, professional speaker, and mother of two, I have learned that an important key to a happier and more successful life is a healthy sense of humour. It helps us deal effectively with the curve balls that life tosses our way every day, and it helps us shift our perspective in those moments when life dares us to complain.

Speaking of which, as if the current added challenges of our great profession weren’t enough reason to find a bit of levity! Now we face budget cuts and staffing reductions. We have to figure out how to do more with less. Add to this the added personal financial pressures arising from the biggest economic crisis in 80 years. Before 2008 we had Freedom 55, which has now been revised to Freedom 75. Sure, you’ll still retire and you’ll still have money. But you’ll only have about 41/2 months to enjoy it.

But let’s face it. Sometimes there are days when seeing the lighter side seems all but impossible! But when I am having one of those days (and I have had more than a few over my 27 years in the profession) I remind myself that some of the best lessons on the power of humour, and the connection it can help us make, have been learned through my patients.

Consider Heidi. I came to know Heidi during her battle against breast cancer. On this day she was to have her mastectomy and I was in the process of checking her in. We chatted and managed to share a laugh about my escapades that day. I told her how I’d lost my dog on a morning run, and the mayhem that I endured in recovering the lost creature, and arriving at work late and completely frazzled. She loved the story. She missed the laughter. She was tired of people asking her about her condition, and how she felt. Her goal was to make the best of each day, no matter how she felt, and on a lot of days she did not feel well at all. Above all she didn’t want to be treated any differently because of her illness. She didn’t want to become the illness.

In the time leading up to her surgery that morning she invited me to sit with her which was an opportunity that I rarely have in the busy environment of the hospital. What a privilege. We talked about the wig collection she had assembled since undergoing chemo. Her husband loved them. He didn’t care if she had hair on her head or not. He loved her just the same. But he did feel as though he was dating a different character depending on which wig she wore each night. There was the red head “Simone”, and there was “Roxy” the blonde and “Juanita” the brunette. She looked to find fun and humour in the midst of a very difficult situation. Talk about shifting your perspective. She chose to embrace the positive as her way to fight back. As she so bravely put it “I choose to fight back because you can’t get cancer of the spirit.”

How is that for perspective?

It is people like Heidi – who remind us of the difference we can make to them, and in return, that they can make to us. They make what we do worthwhile. Making a connection with the clients and patients who we care for is what gets us to kick the covers off in the morning. Take the time to look for the laughter when life dares you to complain.

Put your chest out, lift your chin up, smile and say ‘bring it on!’

Look for the laughter and celebrate being a nurse because the connection is so worth it.  

About Meg Soper

Meg Soper is a leading motivational humorist for organizations in North America. Her unique perspective combines the insights and experiences of her last thirty years spent as a Registered Nurse, stand-up comedian, and ultimately a motivational speaker. Meg has co-authored two books and appeared on the CBC Television network, Women’s Television network, and Prime TV as well as on radio and at comedy festivals.