Author: Martina Stippler
Yuval Harari dissects happiness in the last chapter of his book Sapiens. He states, “Happiness is not the surplus of pleasant over unpleasant moments. It is seeing one’s life in its entirety as meaningful and worthwhile.” As physicians, we hear a lot about burnout, wellness and work-life sway these days. At the same time, our culture seems to be obsessed with happiness. Where does this leave us?
Emily Esfahani Smith, in her TED talk “There is more to a life than being happy,” explains that a meaningful life is a more fulfilling path. People leading a meaningful life are more resilient, function better and live longer.
But how do you live a meaningful life? The psychologist Martin Seligman defines the meaningful life as “using your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you are.” By the nature of being neurosurgeons, we have a direct path to finding meaning in our lives. We alleviate pain, cure brain tumors and prolong lives all in a day’s work. But sometimes we lose sight of it and the meaning often gets infringed on by RVU targets, overbooked clinics, and unrealistic expectations from everyone around us.
The quest for purpose and the calling to give back is the topic of this issue of the Congress Quarterly. Philanthropy and humanitarian effort in neurosurgery can help us to have more fulfilling lives and at the same time diminish disparities in access to neurosurgery care globally.
With this notion in mind, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons started the #CNSfoundation. The CNS Foundation is here to serve the international neurosurgical community. Please find out more about the mission and goal of the CNS Foundation by reading Dr. Elad Levy’s message.
This issue also contains interviews with Dr. Gail Rosseau, Dr. Barth Green and Dr. Robert Dempsey, pioneers in humanitarian efforts, on lessons they have learned and about their vision for the future of global neurosurgery.
If you are interested in how to start your own neurosurgery mission, you will find the reports by Dr. Lawton informative. If you want to get inspired, please read the profiles of two medical missions: one in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, by Dr. Jeremy Hosein and Dr. Katherine Kunigelis, and one in Kurdistan by Doctors Dossani, Bolles and Guthikonda.
I hope that with this issue, I sparked your interest in humanitarian work in neurosurgery and a commitment to a meaningful life—should that be starting your own philanthropic work or by joining forces with the CNS Foundation.