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What do you want to do before you die?
That’s a question motivational speaker Ben Nemtin has asked people almost every day since leaving his home on Vancouver Island in 2006 with the dream of helping strangers check items off their bucket lists.
The best-selling author and star of the MTV show The Buried Life, shared his inspirational story as a keynote speaker at OMED22. In addition to describing the high points of his journey (like playing basketball with President Obama), Nemtin discussed some of the lows, including the period of depression that inspired him to change his life and start pursuing his dreams.
Nemtin stressed the need for more awareness of mental health struggles, which are reported to impact one out of four people. It’s up to the three people who aren’t struggling to make that one person feel more comfortable, Nemtin said.
As a community of physicians and medical students, there is much we can do to help break the stigma, starting with having open, honest conversations about mental health challenges.
“Who you truly are is exactly who you need to be.” – Ben Nemtin
This means be your true self and go after the things you’re passionate about. Don’t hide the things you’re struggling with. Embrace them because, chances are, someone else is going through them too.
In response to Nemtin’s keynote address, OMED22 BEL scholarship recipient Ben Berthet, DO, shared the following thoughts:
“Ben Nemtin’s keynote speech discussed the unselfish act of prioritizing personal goals to promote both personal joy and joy for our patients. It is undeniably inspiring to hear the contagious positivity that comes with someone who is making their seemingly impossible goals possible. While I was listening to him talk, I was hooked on how he was connecting his message to the osteopathic philosophy. He was saying it is part of our professional identity to serve our patients holistically in mind, body, and spirit. If we can optimize our own lives by prioritizing personal goals, our professional achievements will grow too. Our patients can pick up on that positivity and enthusiasm. This may encourage them to achieve their own personal goals which may also include health goals. Ben Nemtin’s message was truly heart-warming, and we can always use a good dose of personal satisfaction that comes with achieving a goal we’ve previously said was impossible. Why not go for it?”
In addition to encouraging OMED attendees to pursue their dreams, Nemtin stressed the importance of resilience. He recommended creating a resilience tookit that includes a list of personal habits for improving your mental health. Everyone is different, so your toolkit should include the tips and tricks that work for you. Nemtin developed a downloadable Mental Health Toolkit to help get you started. By doing what you love, you inspire others to do what they love, he said. Kindness is contagious because it causes a positive ripple effect – one kind act inspires others to perform kind acts.
In addition to a resilience toolkit, Nemtin recommended creating a bucket list. Areas you can focus on include: travel and adventure, giving, intellectual, material, financial, creative, professional, relationships, physical health and mental health. Think about what you want to achieve in each category. It might be helpful to picture your 90-year-old self and ask “Will I be happy with the time I’m spending living for me?”
We all need to take care of our mental health. If you ever need support, you can text Crisis Text Line at “HOME” to 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.