🐒 The Monkey Mind & The Monk Mind


I was watching a video recently when I came across an interesting parable I had never heard before📖.

The video was an interview discussing how to overcome uncertainty, and at one point the interviewer made a comparison between the monkey mind and the monk mind.

The monkey mind can be a bit noisy and scattered🐵. It focuses on jumping from branch to branch, can become easily distracted, and is quick to react to the world around it🌏.

For whatever reason, the first time I heard this I immediately thought of Abu from Aladdin getting upset and not wanting to share the bread he has just stolen🥖.

Not a fan of sharing.

The monk mind, on the other hand, is decidedly different🧘. The monk mind tends to focus on the present moment, remains disciplined and calm, and chooses to react with compassion.

Aside from this being a great approach for life in general👍🏽, I started thinking about how this relates to those of us in medical school and beyond🩺.

It's easy to see how a medical student or physician could be labeled as a monkey mind🙊. We're conditioned to jump from subject-to-subject studying for endless exams📝. We're trained to examine and analyze every little detail about our patients🔍. In the field of emergency medicine especially, we're forced to constantly be on our toes, ready for anything, and take a "worst first" approach when it comes to working up patients☠️.

Although this mindset may have some benefits, over time it can also lead to burnout and fatigue😔.

Finding balance with a monk mind, however, may be the key to more enjoyment and longevity within medicine🗝️.

What if instead of panicking about not matching into the perfect residency, we opt to focus all of our efforts on the upcoming exam🧠?

What if the next time we feel imposter syndrome while managing a patient, we instead remain calm and trust our training👩🏻‍⚕️?

And what if the next time we hear about the accomplishments of a classmate or colleague, we choose to be genuinely happy for them rather than immediately draw comparisons with ourselves😊?

While it may be difficult to avoid a monkey mind completely in medicine🙈, there are certainly better options than being constantly high strung and on the edge😅.

By adopting a monk mind, we can empower ourselves to better navigate difficulty and find more happiness in the amazing field of medicine🌈.

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