Life as a dentist can be filling!

Nov. 1, 2002
One of my favorite ways to relax is to browse through the big bookstores. The shelves are heaped with self-help books.

Paul Homoly, DDS

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Earl who?"
"Earl be glad to tell you how to blend work and play."

One of my favorite ways to relax is to browse through the big bookstores. The shelves are heaped with self-help books. Their authors include psychologists, therapists, clergy members, celebrities, athletes and people who've had incredible experiences.

But I haven't seen any of these books written by a dentist. It seems to me that if a talk-show host can write a self–help book, so can a dentist. So, with that attitude in mind, I'd like to give you my mini version of the first dentist-authored, self-help book — Life as a Dentist can be Filling.

Chapter One: "Don't Expect Your Practice To Make You Happy. Bring Happiness to Your Practice."

The biggest trap in dentistry is the belief that success brings you happiness. Oh yes, it's true, a fat bank account and a full schedule can put a smile on your face — for awhile. But the enduring source of happiness is not what you get from your practice. It's what you bring to it! I love the quote, "A happy person is not a person with a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes." I think the best attitude to have to perpetuate your joy is gratitude. Bring gratitude with you to work. It's the twinkle in your eye and the smile on your face that ignites the attitudes of those around you. And, it's those around you who ultimately create the success in your practice.

Chapter Two: "Things Are Never as Bad as They Seem"

Most of the things that I worry about never happen, and the ones that do, I survive. The problem is that the mind runs with worry and its tricky to stop. Most of us are victims of incessant thinking and problem-solving. Just like hungry dogs that love to chew bones, our minds loves to gnaw on our problems. Consequently, we imagine an entire scenario, mostly bad, for every problem we have, and then we end up in a "worry trance." With time, we deepen the worry trance, making it a habit — a bad thought habit! Read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle to break the worry trance. The short version of his advice: Give your full attention to what is happening right now and you'll end your suffering. Tolle's long version is well worth the read.

Chapter Three: "It's Easier To Blend Work and Play Than It Is To Balance It."

You've heard the lecture — balance work, play, love, and worship. It's a nice thought, but difficult to practice in reality. You're never going to spend equal time in the areas of work, play, love, and worship. The fact is that you spend more time with your chairside assistant than you do your kids!

Think about blending, not balancing, work, play, love, and worship. The secret to blending is to learn to make work fun, as if it was play. To make work fun, start by putting into place the first two principles in this article — Bring happiness to work and stop worrying. On top of this, hire great people with whom you want to be around and have fun with. Get paid for "playing" at dentistry.

Now, blend in love and worship. Do this by honoring and building relationships with your patients, team members, and your dental colleagues. I believe that the truest form of worship is loving and honoring others. The workplace is a great opportunity for spiritual practice. To succeed at blending work, play, love, and worship means you must evolve. You must grow, which leads to a delicious insight — the best reason for success in dentistry is who we have to become to do it!

Dr. Paul Homoly coaches dental teams to implement reconstructive dentistry through his continuing-education workshops, private consulting, and seminars. This column is an excerpt from his new book, Isn't It Wonderful When Patients Say Yes? — Case Acceptance for Complete Dentistry. Dr. Homoly can be reached at (704) 342-4900 or via email at [email protected]. Visit his Web site at

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