From the Book of Wisdom (which is one of the books in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament): "Wisdom is glorious, and never fades away, and is easily seen by those who love her and is found by those who seek her......For she goes about seeking such as are worthy of her, and she shows herself to them cheerfully in the ways, and meets them with all providence."In more down-to-earth terms: If nursing doesn't make one something of an expert on human nature, nothing does. And if we don't learn something new every single day that we work with human beings, we're not doing it right.As a student of life, I am perpetually in search of wisdom, and am never satisfied with the minuscule amount I possess. Becoming wise is an elusive goal, I've discovered; for the more I learn, the more I realize I have yet to learn. But with over 17 years of healthcare experience (not to mention many, many mistakes), I've come to understand a few basic truths about being a nurse......and being human. For one, a little respect goes a long way. No matter how old or how young we are, no matter what our position in life, we all need---and deserve---respect. Just because we're mortal beings, and we ALL wander around on this little planet dazed and confused a good portion of the time. Respect should be our default position when dealing with our patients, our co-workers, our families; it should flow equally toward the VIP in the private room and the homeless alcoholic occupying a narrow gurney in the ER. After all, we are made in the same fashion, we have loved and been loved, and we will eventually die....which makes all of us kin.For another, not everything is about us as individuals. It's so easy to slip into the habit of one-upping our co-workers, or even our patients, with a statement such as "Don't feel bad---you should see what happened to ME when I got sick with what you've got." When we are ill, downcast, or in pain, the last thing we want to hear is how much worse someone else has it. We want comfort; we want reassurance that our needs will be met. Accordingly, we don't need to be judged or shamed unless it is clear that we've done something morally wrong, and even then, judgment and shaming are often counterproductive in preventing recurrence of the troublesome behavior. For despite the means available to help people with various "lifestyle" illnesses, no one asks to be obese. No one grows up aspiring to be an alcoholic or addict. No one wants to be chronically short of breath, unable to perform routine ADLs without gasping for air. And no one, but no one asks the good Lord to challenge him or her with a mental illness. Life is hard enough for people with these conditions; stigmatizing them only produces more suffering. Where is the compassion in that, nurses?And speaking of compassion: It doesn't take self-sacrifice or an attitude of "I must be all things to all people" to be of service to our companions on life's journey. So many nurses seem to think they have to be available to their employers all the time, and that as long as their patients can see them, all will be well. So they hold their pee all day long, neglect their bodies' need for nourishment and hydration, and fail to delegate non-nursing tasks to those who can and should perform them. How I wish that patients, management, and nurses themselves would understand that we cannot pour from an empty vessel! We cannot give the healing energies that we lack ourselves. Why do we keep trying?It's taken almost fifty-four years of living, but I have at last come to the conclusion that most human misery---including my own---is self-imposed. It's time to try some kinder and gentler approaches to the problems which plague us.....and so I will continue the pursuit of Wisdom as my life and career enter their twilight years, in the hope that one day she will show herself to me and find me worthy.