New developments in science and technology all but guarantee that barring some catastrophe, you're likely going to live longer than you currently presume. Perhaps you'll reach 100. Medical breakthroughs already in the pipeline, that seem as if they are more akin to Star Trek than today, promise an astounding new age.
• Major victories in the onslaught of AIDS, including genetic therapies that offer a high cure rate.
• At least partial recovery from spinal cord injuries via the development of artificial nerves.
• The development of artificial body parts that function as well as or better than the original parts, and are visibly undetectable as synthetic.
Even if you can't see it now, you might find yourself taking time off to travel the world. You might retire and then come out of retirement a few times. At 86 or 92, you might decide to run for political office. After all, there will be a large constituency of your contemporaries who will have no problem voting for a fellow octogenarian.
While stress can certainly shorten a life span, most people still realize something close to their estimated life span. What counts is the quality of your life on the way there. Suppose I told you that you would live to be 116, but it would be with the same amount of stress that you're experiencing currently. Would you do it? Would you want to? The quest of most rational people is to live a long, happy, healthy life with relative grace and ease.
Dead men do tell tales
I found the observations of Dr. William R. Maples, PhD, in describing suicide victims to be captivating. Maples, a forensic researcher, diagnosed how and when people died. In "Dead Men Do Tell Tales," he said, "Many of the skeletons that come into my laboratory belong to suicide victims who behaved like shy hermits in their final hours."
"Usually they are found in remote out-of-the-way places. People often go to some hidden place to kill themselves, whether from a desire to act alone and unhindered, or because they wish simply to disappear in solitude, spending their last moments in reflective silence."
Would these individuals have killed themselves if they had attained reflective silence throughout their days? Was their wish to die alone, merely an ill-advised "solution" to their stresses? How would their lives have unfolded if they knew effective ways to find solace and tranquility in the here and now, at work, at home, and in all places in between?
Be true to oneself
Physicians are experiencing greater levels of stress, and less control over their professional lives. Not only that, stress has become the malady of our generation, and it's desirable not to follow the crowd. Instead draw upon your experience, knowledge, and instinct to carve your own path; you will encounter less stress if you are less swayed by prevailing norms. Think and act based on your ever-developing internal guidance system.
Certainly you accept and rely upon input from the outside world; you can't help but do so. You also determine what is relevant to you and what is not, and ultimately, what is appropriate for you and what is not.
When you fully acknowledge the circumstances and events as your life unfolds, and when you fully acknowledge your ability to make appropriate choices, you feel a greater sense of control, every day, and throughout your life — which could well extend for many decades.