Winter 2016 Issue

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What Determines a Happy Life?

By Arnold Melnick, DO, FACOP

Arnold Melnick, DO, FACOP
Arnold Melnick, DO, FACOP

Sometimes in life we overlook the obvious. That was me!

I lived my life in what I thought was an intelligent and orderly fashion -- never with any absolute or preconceived philosophy, although with certain rules. And to me it was a highly satisfactory and successful life! But in retrospect (at 96 years of age), I lived with a driving and unrealized philosophy:

All lives undergo a number of challenges and changes and how we accept

and live with them determines our happiness or unhappiness.

A Few Salient Major Illustrations
Like many of my colleagues, I was not able to gain admission to an allopathic medical school. (CHANGE: I entered PCO — then an unaccepted, frowned-upon profession — and soon totally embraced it.) I feel I received an education equal to any undergraduate medical school in the country and I have been absolutely happy ever since.

On graduation, there were only two osteopathic pediatric residences – both in California. What to do? (CHANGE: I settled on a five-year preceptorship at PCO.) Again, I realize how much that meant to me.

One night, driving to the hospital at 2:00 am to see a sick baby, I realized that, in spite of my love for children and for pediatrics, the effects of such drives were too much for me. (CHANGE: I retired from pediatric practice in 1977 – at age 57 with no future plans.) I do not miss it — only the kids.

Within two years, I was invited to be Founding Dean of the Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine in Miami. (CHANGE: I moved miles from home, left family and friends of 60 years, uprooted my wife of 35 years, found and set up a new home, met a number of osteopathic physicians I had never met, created a new curriculum and all that is needed for a new school.) I did it and loved my 18 years in medical education—and my wife was very happy.

My last retirement, as Executive Vice Chancellor of Nova Southeastern University of the Health Sciences in 1998, left me more time to continue my writing. I became a regular columnist for DO Magazine, the Journal of the American Medical Writers Association and Pulse. I have completed a total of nearly 200 columns. I finished my 15th published book and did a few other things in between. (CHANGE: I retired-retired — moved from Florida to a splendid retirement center near my family and friends in the Philadelphia area.) After a lot of thought, I did the move and I am extremely happy and satisfied with my new living arrangements.

I suspect the readers who have gotten this far are convinced this is my attempt at a farewell. WRONG! I plan to continue to do this column for PULSE as long as Editor Robert Locke wants me and as long as I am able. Having discovered it only recently, I wanted to pass on what apparently has been, unconsciously, the philosophy directing my life:

All lives undergo a number of challenges and changes and how we accept and live with them determines our happiness or unhappiness.

Do you have some favorite personal or office anecdotes? Are you willing to share them with me? I’d like to collect them and maybe share them with others. Please send them to and be sure to include your name and address (street or e-mail). They will be appreciated.

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