Reaching out and touching happiness

Reaching out and touching happiness

by Alex Lickerman for Psychology Today

When I was a fourth-year medical student, I once did a month-long rotation in the ER. One night a woman came in who we decided needed some lab work. When I let her know we needed to draw her blood, she began to tremble visibly. “I’m scared of needles,” she whispered to me.

She squeezed her eyes shut as the phlebotomist set up next to her gurney to draw her blood. “It’ll be over before you know it,” I tried to encourage her. She didn’t even acknowledge I’d spoken.

The phlebotomist glanced at me once, concerned probably more that the patient was going to jump or prove to be a hard stick, and then said to her, “You’re going to feel a little poke.”

The patient tensed, tears appearing at the corners of her closed eyes. Not knowing what else to do, I reached out and took her hand, feeling awkward and foolish as I did it. She clamped down on my fingers so hard she actually hurt them until I shifted my grip to better allow for the force of her squeezing. When the needle went in, she clenched my hand even harder. I felt strangely and warmly connected to her, urgently wishing the phlebotomist would finish as quickly as possible.

When it was over, the patient continued to lie there with her eyes shut, my hand still in hers. I watched as she forced her breathing to slow and then opened her eyes. She dabbed at her tears with her free hand and then looked directly at me. “Thank you,” she said in a relieved voice. Then she gave my hand a final squeeze_ã”this one mercifully gentle_ã”and let me go. My hand started throbbing a little, but I hardly noticed…

…this article might not appear to be directly related to happiness but I believe it is very much of interest to positive psychology and to living a good life (including, obviously, happiness and wellbeing). CLICK HERE TO READ MORE