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5 Reasons Why Pharmacists Should Read “Big Magic”

You may have heard of the book, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. One of her subsequent books is Big Magic and needless to say, it surprised me. Without any spoilers, here are some reasons you may consider picking it up.

1. As pharmacists, we believe in science. Evidence-based medicine. Data. Outcomes. We make recommendations based on study design, trial participants, and p-values. Ms. Gilbert describes another world, one where ideas flow around and whisper in your ear until they are manifested in your creations. She shares her perspective on how ideas get transferred – even by a kiss! Here’s the catch: she’s not actually describing a separate world. She invites us to consider magic in our everyday, kinetics-heavy, and data-driven world. By the time I finished the book, I believed her. Mostly.

2. She shares the number one thing we need before we can begin being creative: nothing. We don’t need anything before we call ourselves creatives, before we begin creating, or before we put our creative energy out into the world. She repeats throughout the book, “We all have treasures inside of us.” She explicitly says that no one needs permission, but if we so desire, she gives us a permission slip in the book. What do you not need a permission slip for?

3. You’ve heard this phrase before: ‘Whatever people think of you is none of your business.’ Ms. Gilbert takes it one step further to say, “The reaction doesn’t belong to you.” When we put our work into the world, there is no way of predicting how people will react. It’s their reaction, based on whatever is going on in their lives at the moment it intersects with our work. No more, no less. How many times in pharmacy are we afraid of what other people will think? What if your idea helps 100 people? What if it helps one?

4. Have you ever heard of someone of living a ‘fearless’ life? No, because according to Ms. Gilbert, that isn’t possible. She shares how she’s realized that fear will always accompany her work, and how she allows it to come along for the ride as long as it doesn’t touch the GPS or radio. Paraphrasing: “You can’t live a fear-based life, but you can’t live a truly fearless life. So learn to live with it.” Pharmacists live in fear of the unknown, the uncertain, and the gray. What if we accepted that patients don’t fit into boxes, leaders don’t lead as we wish, and that we don’t need to be rescued. We can start practicing with our heads and hearts today.

5. Don’t create something to ‘help’ people. I think her exact words were, “Please, God, no don’t do that.” She instead encourages us to create to learn and grow for ourselves, and that in turn, will help those that need similar teachings and guidance.

Thank you, Ms. Gilbert, for surprising me with this book. Thank you for allowing me to reflect on how 6+ semesters of chemistry helped me see established ideas come to life, yet a life filled with new ideas is creating a different type of chemistry.

Anyone who shares this post on Instagram and tags @21stcenturypharmd and @elizabeth_gilbert_writer will be entered into a giveaway to receive a copy of this book!

If you like to read about non-pharmacy things with a pharmacy twist, see more blogs here.

Until next week,



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