A Country Doctor’s New Year’s Resolution

I’ve always had a sentimental streak in me. To the extent I make resolutions this time of year, they have tended to be about being a better human being, and never about changing health or work habits or aiming for specific achievements. I had plenty of those thoughts, but they never came up at New Year’s.

This year in particular, I think a lot about gratitude and abundance: gratitude for the wonderful life I have lived and the good fortune I have had, and abundance as a frame of mind—focusing on what is instead of what isn’t.

If the past few years have taught me anything, it is that you never know what to expect. People change, careers change, death and illness happen around us, close by and far away.

My world is smaller than it was in my middle age. I have fewer distractions and I spend more time thinking at the same time as I have ended up doing more manual labor, for lack of a better word.

My promise to myself this year is to live richly in the moment, treasuring every day for what it is and do a little less thinking and a little more feeling. As I look back over my life, I know I am missing some details but I have powerful recollections of my feelings: I remember vividly the way I felt when I held my infant children for the first time or saw my mother for the last time. I remember how I felt the first and the last time I left Sweden.

I promise myself to feel grateful for the abundant peace and beauty in my immediate surroundings and the unconditional love from my animals. I promise myself to never expect others to behave or treat me in any certain way, but to always feel good will toward them. I treasure the affection of my children and grandchildren, but I don’t demand it or think I always deserve it.

After the Nor’easter

I promise myself to cultivate grace in my day, in my home and in my heart. I promise myself never to be greedy, not for material riches, not for love or attention, and not for more days or years in this life than my fair measure.

Yes, I fulfilled my dream of being a country doctor, and yes, I am a published writer. Yes, I raised two children, and yes, I have been able to embrace two cultures.

Now, I have no bucket list, as some people call it. I am happy exactly where I am, with exactly what I am doing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I promise myself not to wish for what isn’t. Because what is suits me perfectly. I have arrived exactly where I am supposed to be: I read about Maine’s Swedish Colony in a Stockholm newspaper 40 years ago, just when I was starting out in medicine. And here I am today, after several twists and turns that eventually brought me here, then away and then back here again.

1 Response to “A Country Doctor’s New Year’s Resolution”


  1. 1 Spring Texan December 26, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    This is a beautiful post, and as I am an old person myself, it inspires me. Thanks and happy new year!


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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.

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