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9 Lessons from the Mayo Clinic

In this challenging time, this timeless story brings hope and reminds us of what binds us together. I hope you enjoy it today. Sending light and thoughts of health and healing to you and all you love, Kathy


People come from all over the world in the hopes of finding wellness at the Mayo Clinic. Although I have never been a patient there, I have found healing there.

I hope you do too as I tell you about my experience.

The Piano Man

It was the man at the grand piano that taught me the most.

I wasn’t trying to find him. And he wasn’t trying to teach me anything. But there he was playing the happiest music I could imagine.

It was the sound of clapping that drew me in. As I looked for the source of the music, there he was in the sunny atrium playing his heart out.

He wasn’t what I expected.

He was an elderly man with a scruffy beard, unkempt hair and wrinkled t-shirt. It looked like he hadn’t slept in days. He looked tired and worn but the music that came from his fingers was youthful, energetic and skilled.

He was giving us a gift.

The time passed easily and he must have entertained us with his happy music for at least 30 minutes. When he was done, he humbly thanked the crowd and said, “I need to get back to my wife. She’s coming out of heart surgery.”

That’s when something really special happened.

Kindness, Compassion and Hope

As he tried to slip away, people of all nationalities, race, age, gender and status asked him about his wife and wished him well. They asked him where he learned to play piano and told him about their love of music.

As I watched the “piano man” exchange encouragement and healing in the atrium, I felt hopeful. There were no barriers to compassion and kindness at the Mayo.

Illness and hardship had brought these people together and they could have been crying together but instead they were choosing to spread hope and encouragement. Although they seemed to come from all walks of life, they seemed to share a wisdom that is part of the culture at the Mayo.


The Nine Lessons

Here are the lessons I learned at the Mayo Clinic:

(1) A smile really does offer healing.

Start every day by giving one to yourself and then give one to everyone you meet.

(2) Uplifting words really do brighten a day.

Find positive words. Say them to yourself. Say them to others.

(3) Kindness and compassion matter.

We each have a journey that eventually has a few unexpected twists and turns. Offer more kindness and compassion to yourself. Give strength and hope to others by offering the same to them.

(4) Relationships matter.

Heal relationships – relationships heal.

(5) Shine a light. Speak from the heart.

Every day is a good day to receive and express love. Appreciate and love yourself more. Tell others what you love in them.

(6) Be happy to “work.”

Our “work” is accomplished everywhere we are and everywhere we go. Know that you are making a difference in each moment. Make work a happy place for yourself and for those who visit you there.

(7) A clean and bright space matters.

A space that is well-organized and cheery gives others confidence in our abilities and can make us feel happier too. Have fun brightening it up.

(8) Surprising others with “happy elements” matters.

I wouldn’t expect a hospital and research center to be such a happy place but there are intentional surprises at every turn. Imagine that you are “CEO of Happiness” today at work and at home. Surprise yourself and others.

(9) Gratitude is a catapult emotion.

Blessings are sent to us every day from so many different directions. Have confidence that good thoughts are coming to you. Send only good thoughts to others. Let your gratitude catapult you to a new level.


I am grateful to the piano man who brought these lessons into focus for me and I hope that he is as happy today as he was as he sat at the grand piano.

The Mayo Clinic is a powerful teaching facility. It is a healing place. It is a place of kindness and compassion. It is a place of stories unfolding. My experience there taught me some unexpected lessons and revived me in ways I could not have imagined.

I send healing light and gratitude to the people who work and seek healing at the Mayo Clinic and at all medical facilities in this time of crisis.

May the lessons above, inspired by the Mayo Clinic, become part of our daily practice.

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on motivational programs.

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