In Will Storr’s recent piece in the New Yorker he writes about emerging research on happiness. Specifically he cites research that suggests that in individuals lacking eudaemonia, which is in essence a rational mind pursuing excellence, there is increased health risk. The risk noted in gene expression in those lacking eudaemonia is suggested to be as damaging as smoking or obesity. This eudaemonia concept dates back to Aristotle who described the idea of eudaemonic happiness, which said, essentially, that happiness was not merely a feeling, or a golden promise, but a practice. There also is a connectedness aspect of eudaemonia, in that it is thought to refer to those aspects of well-being that transcend immediate self-gratification and connect people to a bigger purpose.
Those of us engaged in the practice of physical therapy are fortunate to be involved in a field that allows for a rational and sustained pursuit of excellence in the service of others. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I would also like to mention someone that dedicated his entire adult life to pursuing excellence in his craft but also who humbly, quietly, and without seeking gratification provided encouragement to others. My wife Sue and I were fortunate enough to sit at at table with this gentleman about 14 years ago. It was at a Spurs Foundation benefit in San Antonio, TX. Sue began to share a story with him about one of her young kids with Cerebral Palsy that she worked with who had recently visited the Spurs locker room and got to meet some of the San Antonio Spurs. Sue was half-way through the story when she was interrupted by the boisterous announcer starting the benefit auction, making it difficult for any further conversation. Following the auction, it was time for Coach Pop and all the players to exit. However, Tim Duncan came back over to Sue and said “can you finish your story, I remember that young boy.” Sue went on to share with Tim what an impact he had made by telling the young boy that he needed to commit to exercising every day. However, what really made a difference is that you got on the floor with him and you traded stretching exercises that you each needed to do. After his Spurs visit Sue’s client went from not engaged in his therapy to being absolutely exuberantly engaged and repeatedly mentioning “what Tim said.” After hearing the rest of the story a clearly moved Tim just said “thank you so much for sharing that with me.”
Thank you Tim Duncan for your sustained excellence and quietly making a difference.