We can all use guidance on leading a healthier life in the new year, so we’re eager to share the newest edition of Dr. Joseph Maroon’s Square One. In this guide, Dr. Maroon details his journey to rebalance his life after falling into a serious depression. He boasts an impressive resume as both a neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers, proving that even the most accomplished can suffer from burnout. Combining deeply personal anecdotes with scientific explanations, he guides readers back to square one so they can avoid burnout and experience true joy and creativity.In the interest of bringing balance and success to as many lives as possible, Dr. Maroon sat down with us to answer some questions on his upcoming release.
Maroon’s Quick Tips for Healthful Living
In the new edition of Square One, you talk about burnout syndrome and the havoc it can wreak on one’s personal and professional life. In a culture that places so much emphasis on work, what can we do to stay balanced?
The most essential thing we can do is to have insight into our daily activities. As the Buddhists say, we must be aware and mindful of our feelings or activities and the amount of stress we are experiencing. If we’re not aware and mindful, we won’t be able to take the steps to re-wire or retrain our brains by reorienting our priorities.
You often speak about balanced and mindful living. What does it mean to live mindfully, and how can we incorporate those principles in our daily lives?
Being mindful means being an impartial observer. It is the ability to stay present in the moment without allowing the mind to get sidetracked. Mindfulness is a state of awareness without judgment—awareness of both the long-term and short-term effects of your everyday choices and decisions.
Spirituality is one of the core areas of focus in Square One. In a world that’s so focused on perceivable reality, what can we do to enhance our spiritual understanding of ourselves and our place in the world?
Spirituality is about discovering—through prayer, meditation, and contemplation—what your real purpose is in life. It is said that the purpose of life is a life of purpose. As I address in Square One, he who has a “why” to live for can bear almost any how. Only by being aware and mindful can we discover our purpose—our why—and we can realize that our purpose may change as we pass through the various seasons of our lives.
People often believe that burnout only happens to those who have stressful careers, such as doctors or police officers. Do you think burnout is limited to stressful professions?
Since publishing my book, I have discovered that “burnout” is epidemic not only in professionals, but in students, struggling mothers, soccer moms, and lawyers, often with the heavy incidence of alcohol abuse and incredible stress. It is estimated that at any one time, one out of three physicians experience burnout. Caregivers of family members are over 50%. It is simply epidemic in our current society and one of the reasons that the topics I address in Square One are so important today.
If you could give one ultimate mindful living tip, what would it be?
Be aware and develop insight into the stress produced by our daily activities and then—if possible—try to mitigate the stresses as much as possible. This is sometimes impossible to do because of our job, family, or responsibilities. In that case, physical activity, prayer, and meditation can reduce the toxic cortisol that destroys brain cells and the lining of our blood vessels and results in many of the diseases of aging.
About Dr. Joseph Maroon
Dr. Joseph Maroon is a world-renowned neurosurgeon with extensive experience in the medical field. Educated at Indiana University, Georgetown, and Oxford, Dr. Maroon lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he serves as the leading neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With more than 40 years of experience, research, and study, Dr. Maroon continues to be a leader in his field, specializing in minimally invasive surgery, sports medicine, personal fitness, nutrition, and innovative concussion management. As an Ironman triathlete, Dr. Maroon lives and breathes his own advice and is a fierce advocate for square living.
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