As one of the country’s top physicians, Dr. Alex Lickerman was leading quite a blessed life. He had just turned forty years old, and the future never looked brighter both personally and professionally. He sat down to enjoy a delicious Sunday brunch…and within hours, his world turned upside down.
“At first, it looked like I would just need a routine appendectomy,” he explains during a recent interview with Get Healthy magazine. “Yet, there were complications. All of a sudden, the idea of my mortality was thrust into my face, and I quickly recognized I needed to know how to deal with it.”
It was the culmination of these life-changing events six years ago that eventually led the former assistant professor of medicine and director of primary care at the University of Chicago and current assistant vice president for Student Health and Counseling Services at the University of Chicago to write a book on what it takes to become indestructible. In THE UNDEFEATED MIND: On The Science Of Constructing An Indestructible Self, Dr. Lickerman teaches readers the true road to happiness despite the circumstances.
“Resilience isn’t something that only a fortunate few are born with, but rather something that everybody can take action steps to develop,” he says. “As a physician, going through the health issues that I did certainly gave me a whole new perspective, especially when it came to dealing with my own patients. I am much more empathetic now that I recognize how vulnerable we all are. I want people to know that we can’t always try to avoid bad feelings — it’s normal to be anxious or sad sometimes. Those feelings can actually be good for you if you know how to handle them.”
Especially in the ever hectic world in which we live, Dr. Lickerman says it’s never been more important to sort through the issues and tasks that tend to wear us down the most. “People are feeling overwhelmed these days based on the sheer number of things we are dealing with,” explains Dr. Lickerman, who utilized case studies, scientific research and the tenets of Nichiren Buddhism as a basis for the book. “So many of us wake up with a plate full of tasks, and when added together, they are indeed overwhelming. Yet, dealing with one thing at a time is always going to be the better choice. Take an inventory of what is on your plate. It will give you a tremendous sense of control.”
The physical manifestation of the emotional luggage we carry is also something Dr. Lickerman says is becoming more and more concerning. “A stressed mental state is going to lead many to doing something that gives them pleasure, whether that means going shopping or eating too much,” says Dr. Lickerman's, whose blog "Happiness in this World" is syndicated via the Psychology Today website and receives over 100,000 unique visitors per month. “The current state of the economy certainly serves as an added pressure. We can all find ourselves at our wit’s end when the reality out resists our expectations. We all try to be forecasting machines, but when things last longer that our expectations, it can be difficult. In most cases, one must come to the point of resetting their expectations about the life in which we live.”