Most of what I’ve learned that makes me a better parent, doctor, friend, contributor comes from life experience. School, whether college, medical school or any post graduate training help just so much. The rest is all life. Running a trauma center at 28, going into private practice at 33, writing books, giving lectures, seeing patients, having children and friends, I’ve been blessed with a life full of opportunity to always learn. As the years passed my passion and my desire to help people live better lives, prevent disease and improve the health care system has only grown. I believe that is because I’ve been blessed to be a participant, a contributor.

The more of a participant you are, the richer and fuller your life becomes and the more you have the opportunity to give back.

So, to my younger self here are a few thoughts to make your life better and the bumps in the road smoother:

  1. Learn to listen. When you are young you know it all, you are so excited to share your information that you cannot sit still and just listen to what other people say. You are ready with your answers before the other person finishes their sentence. This fast on the trigger response makes you miss out on infinite number of little grains of information you can amass by listening. If you knew how much you will benefit from learning to listen you would never miss the opportunity again.  I am fully confident you can train yourself to keep your mouth shut and just listen. You’ll get smarter and get ahead so much faster.
  2. Go with the flow. I bet you’ve heard this before. When you are young you don’t get the importance of this sentence. Without even knowing we spend most of our time fighting to get our point across, to change the direction of someone else’s life, to get noticed, to seem smart, to just stand out. These ways of doing things actually serve to stop you from growing. Think of a stick in the mud, it doesn’t allow the river to just freely flow through. Don’t be that stick…
  3. Learn to make decisions by yourself. No living by committee. We all have friends, family and acquaintances we bounce our life situations off. The more we listen to everyone else’s opinion the less we are living our own life. Decisions about your life should be made by you alone. Watch your life become easier to manage. You don’t have to please anyone else.
  4. Take risks. If you don’t try it, you won’t know what you can do. Don’t take stupid risks, take risks to improve yourself and the life of those around you. A highly successful attorney friend of mine told me when he turned 70 that all he would’ve done differently in his life would have been to take more risks. Just think, he’s a huge litigator. His life is all about risk. Just take smart risks.
  5. You’re not the only one here. You’re not alone but you are unique. There are many others who have been or are in the same predicament as you are, there are many who feel left out, alone and unclear about being here. No one knows what they don’t know. None of us have been here before. We are all here on a temporary basis and we are all in this life together. This knowledge alone should give us comfort and a feeling of belonging.

Wishing you a great life, full of passion and kindness!


  • Dr. Erika Schwartz is an internationally renowned thought leader and pioneer in the field of prevention, health care that focuses on preventing disease by addressing lifestyles, whole body and mind treatments using conventional and integrative medical modalities.