Getting the Joy Back: Part 1 Understand the Goal

April 1, 2021
Holly Sawyer, DVM, Human-Animal Bond Certified, Regional Veterinary Consultant

Back in the day, we joined the veterinary community because we loved animals, because medicine was fascinating, the human-animal bond magical, and hands-on intervention an immense privilege. But in our current reality of relentless appointments, strained tempers, and outright exhaustion, it is nearly impossible to recapture that former idealism. 

Across the nation, my colleagues have one universal desire: we want to be happy again. 

Let me up the ante. I want us to be joyful again. There is a difference, and in this series, I aim to give you the tools you need to regain joy in your work and balance in your life. 

The Root of the Problem

Ask a parent, "What do you want most for your children when they grow up?" and what answer will you hear? Health, wealth, success, and sense of purpose are common aspirations in our culture, but let’s face it. Happiness is king.

Yet, if we delve into the root of the word happy, we find ourselves on shaky ground. Happy derives from the Middle English term hap, first used in the 13th century to mean chance, luck, or fortune. It spawns such other words as perhaps, happenstance, haphazard, hapless, and mishap. These literary cousins are at best neutral and at worst anchored firmly on the negative side of experience. Do we really want to aspire to a feeling of delight that depends entirely on circumstance? 

The Alternative


Joy, on the other hand, traces its roots to Old French’s joie, which comes from the Latin gaudere, which means rejoice. There is an intensity to the term rejoice, a sense of depth and nobility and boundlessness that poor little hap can’t touch. Joy, far from being mere reaction to pleasantness like happiness, is instead a state of being, a perspective one can strengthen with practice, but only when catalyzed by something else. 

What is the missing ingredient for this secret sauce? Brother David Steindl-Rast described it best when he said:

“The root of joy is gratefulness…it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” 

I urge you to camp here for a moment and really take this in. The secret to joy is looking at your life through a lens of gratitude. 

Gratitude In Action

Tomorrow, I want you to wake up and shift your focus to the fact you have breath in your lungs and are alive to see the day. Open the fridge and realize that kings of old never ate anything half so exotic as your breakfast of strawberry yogurt topped with cinnamon and fresh bananas. Enter the clinic and comprehend how extraordinary your life is, that among all the animal lovers the world over who ever lived, you get to improve the quality of life for the pets who walk through your door that day in profound and practical ways. 

No matter how chaotic your day becomes, shift your focus toward what you are grateful for, and feel the joy return. To make this easier, GuardianVets offers a suite of communication services to facilitate your practice’s workday efficiency and give you peace of mind when the day is done. 

How we can help: At GuardianVets, we believe veterinarians should be able to separate from work and have peace of mind that their clients are still in good hands. That’s why we developed triage and telemedicine solutions delivered by our team of licensed DVMs and nurses who work alongside you to support your practice and act as a virtual extension of your team. Our solutions are VCPR compliant and customized to solve your individual practice needs. Book a 15 minute consultation with one of our team members to find out how we can help bring the joy back.

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