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A New Resolve for Pandemic Resolutions

If you like I made New Year’s Resolutions for 2020, you had the best excuse for not keeping them up beyond March.

The pandemic – and the never-ending upheavals to even our healthiest routines – sabotaged most of our plans, rearranged our goals and robbed us of many of the joys of daily life.

At this time, in any other year, I would sit down with my wife and children to review the old calendar. I would invariably be surprised with what has happened in the span of just one year. The media recapitulates the big world events with retrospective spins, but what matters most to you and me are our personal experiences.

This year was totally different.

We missed out on celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and other events that would normally bring us together; time spent with family and friends; plays and musicals seen with my wife – all cancelled indefinitely due to the necessary restrictions of the pandemic.

Before moving on to a New Year, we would ask, “What are we most grateful for?”

In contrast to the disruptions to our lives, the terrible impact on the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of so many of us, and the lives lost during this world-wide health crisis, there were redeeming actions taken by many for which I am grateful.

So many individuals and organizations, recognizing those who have been most impacted by the pandemic and the necessary public health restrictions, worked individually and collectively to reduce those burdens.

If you have reached out to a neighbour, an elderly family member or families struggling with social isolation and the financial burden of the pandemic, I thank you.

With few exceptions, we have seen a wellspring of kindness to lift one another up. We have worked as individuals and as a community to protect and support the most vulnerable.

I appreciate the wonderful, kind actions of others; my gracious patients who continue to entrust me with their care, adapting to the new ways of connecting; my colleagues who support me in our shared calling; the many good people I have worked with to improve the health of our community; my friends, and my family.

As individuals and as a community, we have to recognize what we have endured and survived. Now more than ever, I reflect on these questions. How have we been helped? How have we helped others? What have we learned? How have we grown? The answers are measures of a year and of our lives.

In spite of the shifting sands of this past year, we have learned much. The general public now knows more than they ever did about infectious diseases, the novel coronavirus, physical distancing, the value of wearing masks and hand hygiene.

Most of us learned to use Zoom and other online video platforms for the first time.

We’ve also discovered the impact of acting collectively for the wellbeing of all.

And more than ever, we recognize what really is important in our lives. Of course, we miss vacations, parties, dinners, hanging out with friends, and going to school or work the old fashion ways.

More profoundly, we missed our physical and social connections with one another. This really is what life is all about.

Entering each New Year, we reflect on what we will do differently. Within the guidelines of public health, what activities should we do more of? What should we reduce? What should we cut out all together? What can we create?

We know we cannot predict what 2021 will bring us. We have to accept those things beyond control, but given our strengthened recognition of what we value most, where will we devote our time, energy and attention?

What positive actions can we each take to regain a sense of wellbeing and connection to the people in our lives? What can we do together? What can we do for others?

The pandemic has reminded us that life, relationships and each moment are precious.

This year, I’ll be continuing my work with the Burnaby Division of Family Practice in our free public health lectures (now being presented virtually during the pandemic).

I’ll be giving a free online talk on The Keys to Positive Change at 7 pm on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021. As part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients public health education program, I’ll share practical tips for improving your wellbeing and making positive changes that last. These are the secrets that my patients and I have successfully used to transform new habits into healthy routines that stick. 

For more information, please check this website over the next few weeks or  or email Leona Cullen at (Please be patient while the Division works on providing the link to my online talk. I’ll update this site as soon as it becomes available).

Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, see his website at

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Your Positive Potential: Notes from my keynote for Inspiration Day


Saturday, February 22nd, 2020 was Inspiration Day at Century House in New Westminster. Gracious members of the audience requested my speaking notes. Here they are.

I began with a brief introduction to my Empowering Patients public education program sponsored by the Burnaby Division of Family Practice. The purpose of my series of workshops, videos, posters and key points handouts is to provide everyone in our community with unbiased health and wellness information essential to live healthy, happy lives.

With respect to the things within your control, the best predictor of your future health are the habits you practice today.

Real healthcare is self-care as it is individuals – not professional healthcare providers – who provide over 90% of their healthcare.

The four foundations of self-care are: 1. what you eat (what you put into your body); 2. what you do (physical activity and rest); 3. how you feel (emotional wellbeing), and 4. how you connect (healthy relationships).

These are all key topics of my Empowering Patients talks. The slides and handouts are available in addition to videos on the public website for the Burnaby Division of Family Practice.

Upcoming 2020 Health Talks

Everyone is welcome to attend these no-cost talks, however registration is required as space is limited.

March 12, 7:00 – 8:30 PM – ‘Emotional Wellness’
Brentwood Community Resource Centre, 2055 Rosser Avenue, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.

March 31, 7:00 – 8:30 PM‘The Positive Potential of our Relationships’
Bonsor Recreation Complex, 6550 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.

April 8, 7:00 – 8:30 PM ‘Healthy Eating’
McGill Public Library, 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby
CLICK HERE to register.

May 14, 6:00 – 6:45 PM – ‘Healthy Physical Activity’ & Walk With Your Doc
Confederation Seniors Centre (4585 Albert Street, Burnaby)
CLICK HERE to register.

For more information, check out all Empowering Patients materials.


How we tell our stories affects how how we experience our lives.


The helplessness of the victim can feed anxiety.

If we can’t let go of anger, what we hold continues to harm us.

Remembering only loss and surrendering to hopelessness begets depression

With an attitude of entitlement, you will never be satisfied.

THE DEFAULT MODE NETWORK is the brain on autopilot creating stories. This typically happens when we are daydreaming, neither focussed on a specific task nor meditating. We can adopt unquestioned assumptions and core beliefs – many of them limiting beliefs, such as: “I have to be perfect to be loved.” “I can’t trust anyone.” “Life is unfair.” “I’m not good enough.” “I don’t deserve success, happiness or love.” “I am powerless.”

COGNITIVE BIASES are unconscious cognitive shortcuts with which we misinterpret reality. One such bias is the negativity bias. We notice more of what is wrong than what is right – with our partners, our situation and ourselves. To counter the negativity bias, we need to see (and hear) FIVE positives for every negative. This is a key principle for maintaining positivity in your most significant relationships and in creating a happy home for our children.

Actively see the positive in your life by the daily practice of gratitude. I start each day – before I even get out of bed, with a prayer of thankfulness for all the blessings in my life, beginning with the person lying next to me: my wife. This attitude primes the pump for noticing the positive aspects of all that I will see throughout the day. By days end, when I will reflect on the day with another prayer of thankfulness, my cup is overflowing.

I teach quality improvement to my physician colleagues to improve patient safety and health outcomes. When problems arise, we do a root cause analysis. This might include using the Five Whys. Ask at least 5 whys to get beyond the proximate or superficial causes of problems to get to the root cause.

I applied the Five Whys to every problem I could think of and found a single root cause for every problem in the world: a false sense of self.

We live with the illusion of separateness . . . and a life of competition.

There is the illusion of the Other . . . that engenders prejudice based on colour, gender, age, body shape, clothing, faith, language, accents and customs. The other may appear strange, different, less than, threatening or dangerous.

We went through an exercise in compassion to dissolve this false separation. I asked audience members to look at a person directly across the table from them. They were to look into each other’s eyes – not speak – but rather listen to these words. This person was once a baby, loves and held in the arms of parents . . .  just like you.

This person was once a child who laughed and cried, with big hopes and dreams . . . just like you.

This person has felt alone and sad, heartbroken and disappointed . . . just like you.

This person just wants to be happy . . . just like you.

This person needs to be loved . . . just like you.

The inescapable truth: you are not a separate, independent individual. You are a global citizen interdependent with every other person on this planet. Your wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of others.

We are all a part of a greater whole, members of a family, supported by a network of friends, neighbours and peers.

We are part of a community, citizens of this country and members of humankind, connected to all living things, a part of nature and this planet.

This is your true identity.

You belong here.

Another exercise to foster unconditional love. Imagine in front of you, one whom you love naturally and easily. Someone who always brings warmth to your heart and a smile to your face.

Say these words to them: May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.

Now imagine someone you have had a disagreement with in the past week.

And say those same words: May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.

The big problems of our society and the world will never be solved by people looking out for themselves. When we realize our interdependence and connection with the global community and all life on this planet, we will see the positive evolution of humanity and life on Earth.

It begins with us.

Together let us be the change we wish to see.

What is your story?

Engaging with Life and Coping with Change

The reality of change. Change is the nature of all things. It is our very nature. It is futile to pursue and cling to that which does not last. Nothing lasts.

We must appreciate what we have when we have it.

Every gift is not ours to hold forever. We must love and appreciate others while we can and let go when we need to. Accept what you cannot change. Accept responsibility to change what you can.

Be an Agent of Positive Change

Be dynamically response to change. Seek out the positive potential of each moment. Be responsive not reactive.

The Science of Neuroplasticity

Though our habits of thought and behaviour seem hardwired, with effort and repetition, we can transform our own minds. Donald Hebb, Canadian neuropsychologist said, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” this is how we can adapt to our changing world. You can retell your life story . . . and see beyond the illusion of a separate smaller self.

Evolving into Our Positive Potential

Discovering your potential in life. Your calling is the intersection of four circles: your passions, your talents, your values and the needs of the world.

Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” When you listen to life and rise up to meet the challenge, you will find meaning and purpose.

Heed the call which may change at different stages of your life. There is a potivie potential to be realized in each day. We must see, feel and act.

We are all a part of the Love Cycle. In our lives, we receive love in many forms. We give it forward. The giving of love does not diminish us but connects us and makes us stronger.

At the end of each day . . . and at the end of this life, you don’t want to regret having not given enough or loved enough. The greatest tragedy in life is that we may die not knowing how much we were loved.

Life is lived fully by loving without limit, giving all you’ve got and holding nothing back.

We are all human and imperfect but still deserving of love, beautiful and able to love.

You ARE good enough.

You ARE worthy of love.

You DESERVE to be happy.

You are BEAUTIFUL just as you are.

You belong here.

We are all interconnected in the Cycle of Love. When we realize our interdependence and connection with the global community and all life on this planet, we will see the positive evolution of humanity and life on Earth.

It begins with us.

We are part of a greater whole.

We are all Agents of Positive Change.

You are greater than you think. We can make a difference.

Together let us be the change we wish to see.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician and writer. 

Tapestry Talk

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Four Ways to Give

Dr. Pooh & Tigger


The perfect gift is the one most needed.

This season, consider four gifts that we often take for granted.

Mobility and Physical Independence

Unable to stand or walk without crutches, I’ve been dependent on my family these past two weeks. Almost everything takes twice as long: getting out of bed and to the washroom, showering, dressing, preparing meals and simply negotiating stairs.

I have even greater empathy for my elderly patients – and those with back and limb disabilities – for whom getting up from a chair and onto an exam table is a precarious effort. At any time, a fall is possible.

Many of our elderly are at high risk for falls at home and would benefit from a homecare assessment from a registered nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist. Many would qualify for Handidart – a transportation service for the disabled who are unable to use regular transit services – and handicapped parking.

One in three seniors (over 65) has had one fall in the past year, and the effects of a fall can be devastating for the frail. 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. Vancouver’s falls prevention clinic is at VGH. If you or someone you know is at risk for falls, you can contact the clinic at Fraser Health has a mobile clinic that moves from city to city (but not directly to your home). To find out more, call (604) 587-7866 or e-mail

Be patient with older adults and others who are limited in their independence. Give them time and space to get on elevators or escalators. Take the time to hold doors or to lend a hand. A small gesture of kindness from the able-bodied can make a difference.


Though many of us will be feasting during the holiday season and resolving to lose weight in the New Year, the cost of food is rising. Many of your neighbours are struggling to get enough nutrition.

The Canada Food Price Report recently released from Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph predicts that in 2020, the average Canadian family will spend $487 more on food than in 2019.

With rising housing costs, some families can’t afford their daily meals.

Though food banks may get more food donations during the holiday season, the need is present all year long. There are food banks open throughout Greater Vancouver on most days of the week. The schedule is available at

Consider making a cash donation. This requires less work for the volunteers, allows the food bank to take advantage of bulk buying and may ensure a better supply of all the essentials.

A Safe Home

I’m not able to drive at the moment, but I feel lucky to have a car.

Because of the disproportionate cost of housing, I know of many for whom their vehicle has taken the place of their home. One of my patients, though working, cannot afford to rent and sleeps in his car each night.

For those without nearby family, the loss of a job can herald homelessness. It can happen to almost any of us.

Consider a donation this year to the Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby ( or the Progressive Housing Society that won the Burnaby Board of Trade’s Best Non-Profit Award for 2019.

Burnaby has three warming centres that are open from 8 pm to 8 am from November 15th to March 30th. They provide overnight shelter, hot beverages and snacks for the vulnerable in our community. They are located at the Kensington Pitch and Putt, Swangard Stadium and 5970 Beresford Street.

To find a warming centre in Vancouver, call 211.

Donations of blankets, socks and warm clothing are welcomed.

Family and Friends

Though some social gatherings may seem an obligation, consider the many among us who do not have family and friends with whom to celebrate. Newcomers and the elderly living alone can be socially isolated in our big cities.

Neighbourhood houses have been created to fill the need for social support and connections. Burnaby has two neighbourhood houses: 4908 Hastings Street in North Burnaby and 4460 Beresford Street in the Metrotown. For more information:

There are six Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver. For more information:

I wish all our readers a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Whistler view

Dr Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise column appears in the Vancouver Courier 

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The Fast Choice is Rarely the Healthy Choice – for Your Relationships, Emotions and Body

As an intern in my twenties coming off a night of call with the weight of the hospital off my shoulders, I would crave for a hashbrown and Sausage McMuffin on my way home to sleep. Though my hunger was soon satisfied, I eventually recognized I wasn’t renewed by fast food and a quick nap.

We all know that fast food (processed, sugary, fried, fatty or salty) makes for poor fuel and nutrition. If we hold off the urge for a quick fix, we can let the craving pass and make a healthier choice.

The same holds for the other quick and convenient fixes that have become the habits and norms of daily life. Consider the “fast foods” of our friendships, activities, emotional needs and rest.

The Need for Real Friendships

A hundred Facebook friends or Instagram followers cannot replace a handful of good friends. You can have a long list of associates but most of us need just a few true blue friends for life.

Like fast food, fast friends may be interesting and fun, but they don’t provide the long term support and love we need over a lifetime. Your real friends are there when you need them, providing unconditional care.

They tell you what you need to hear – even if it’s not what you want to know. They see and bring out the best in you. Connecting through social media is no substitute for calling and meeting up with a best friend.

The Need for Meaningful Activity

Boredom can be quenched online. Binging on Netflix, watching endless YouTube videos and playing Candy Crush can fill the void with distraction. They consume attention and time but ultimately leave us wanting more.

Boredom signals for a need for challenge and meaning. Our brains were built to learn and our spirits crave for meaningful challenges. Satisfy your mind with new places and experiences. Enjoy the stimulation of a really good book.

The Need for Rest and Recreation

All work and no play make Jack and Jill burnt out.

We all need balance in our activities.

The internet is saturated with attention and time vampires. Another evening check of your phone or pad can lead to a late night. A Starbucks coffee or Tim’s double double are no substitutes for a good night’s sleep.

During a day of work or study, a change of pace with a walk, meditation or music can refresh you better than a shot of caffeine or nicotine. I’ve found that a quick lunchtime swim can energize a busy afternoon in the clinic.

The Need for Peace and Happiness

When you’re feeling down and distressed, what do you reach for?

It may be easiest to scroll through social media or play Candy Crush, vape, drink, smoke or get a dose of another favourite chemical. Again we may turn to our usual comfort foods.

Though these quick fixes may help us feel better for the moment, the effects are transient. None provide the lasting happiness or peace we really need.

Shopping in person and online may provide instant gratification but they ultimately leave us feeling empty. The joy of a new purchase never lasts.

What we ultimately need is meaningful activity and relationships. Take the time to reflect on where you devote your precious time and attention. Don’t settle for a quick fix.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His articles appear in the Vancouver Courier, The Westside Post and Richmond News.

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Thanksgiving and the Power of Appreciation


What’s your favourite holiday?

If you ask kids this month, they are likely to answer “Hallowe’en!”

Mine is Thanksgiving.

Like Christmas, it’s a time we can gather with our loved ones and express appreciation for one another, but unless you’re American – or a Canadian who celebrates Black Friday, Thanksgiving does not require a frenzy of shopping.

And if you’re lucky enough to celebrate with a big family feast, you’re not likely to gain as much weight or drink too much as with the traditions of Christmas.

Thanksgiving prompts us to collectively reflect on the good in our lives – the many important people and things we take for granted. We don’t do this often enough.

The human brain has a natural negativity bias.

We notice more what is wrong than what is good.

We are attuned to pick up on things that are out of place or we just don’t like – in our environment, in others and in our selves. Noticing potential dangers or longing for things we lack had great survival value for our species but can make us overly anxious when our lives are generally safe – and unsatisfied when we really have enough.

Our negativity bias is great for business. What we have seems not enough, we crave for the new iPhone, new clothes and expensive rides. Consumerism capitalizes on our dissatisfaction with what we have and the commercial world convinces us that happiness is to be found in looking better and having more.

We can only be happy when we appreciate what we have today.

Our negativity bias, when it highlights danger and challenge and ignores our personal resources, can make us anxious. When it highlights what is wrong in our lives and ignores what is right, it can make us depressed.

That negativity bias is bad for relationships. Because children hear more criticism than complements, it erodes self-esteem and how they feel about their parents. When couples hear more words of complaint than affection, aversion overpowers attraction.

As a rule of thumb, the human brain must perceive five positives just to balance with one negative. I’ve asked couples and parents to come up with five positive comments for every criticism they express at home. They at first realize that it becomes such an effort to come up with so many positive comments that they hold their tongues with the negatives.

But in modern neuroscience, we know that we can change the way we think. As Canadian neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb said, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Once we start looking for more positives in others, the more we will see.

And when everyone in the family starts hearing more complements than criticisms, their relationships will improve and the home can become a haven of positive affection.

The gift of Thanksgiving is the power of appreciation. It’s an attitude and a perspective that can foster personal happiness and improve our relationships.

Appreciation – like love and forgiveness – is a twice-blessed gift. Expressing our appreciation for others makes us feel happier; feeling appreciated makes others happier.

This year, I’m starting a new Thanksgiving tradition by sending a note to the people in my life whom I most appreciate: those who make a positive difference to me and others.

I invite you to embrace the healing attitude of gratitude and start your own tradition. The best place to start is at home, in your neighbourhood, at school and at work.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in the Vancouver Courier.

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Remembering and Honouring Our Mothers


Visiting the cemetery each week, reminds me of what matters most in life.

When we remember whom we have loved and lost, and recognize that all lives – even our own – will someday come to an end, the multitude of tasks that consume our days and the real and imagined dramas that engage our emotions are revealed as distractions from the marrow and meaning of life.

This time of the year has become bittersweet for myself and many others.

I remember my own mother who died suddenly in 2003, and I remember my patients who are mothers: young mothers fully engaged in the busiest, most stressful times of their lives looking after every detail of their infants’ and young children’s wellbeing; mothers of teens and young adults who will never stop giving and worrying about their children; and mothers with critical health conditions and whose remaining time with their families is painfully precious.

My mom was uniquely ethical and generous. She always did what she believed to be right and just, and she gave more than she got.

But when we think about it, giving more than you get is part of the lengthy job description of every mother. In spite of some progress in gender equality, mothers today still take on more than their share of maintaining the home and caring for their children.

Children can never pay back their mothers for the selfless care that began nine months before their births, continued through uncounted sleepless nights during infancy, a lifetime of meals prepared, and clothing purchased, picked up and laundered.

I appreciated how my mother loved and accepted me just as I was. She expected from her children a high standard of behaviour, but forgave us when we faltered. We didn’t have to be perfect to be loved. She saw the best in us and nurtured our potentials.

This day, let us remember and honour all mothers.

At my mother’s resting place, my sister and I chose these words, “Her legacy of love endures.” We honour our mother by giving forward to all whom we can touch with our lives, the love she gave to us and many others.

When you are being hard on yourself, judging yourself too harshly, beating yourself up for your failings or just think you’re not good enough, give to yourself what you need the most – a good dose of motherly self-compassion. Remember you were loved just the way you are and with the eyes of a good mother, you are beautiful.

Honour your mother by being the best version of yourself – and loving others as she has loved you.

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You Belong Here: the Positive Potential of Our Community

Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

When my kids were young, the happiest place on Earth (besides home) was Disneyland.

Now that that they’re in their twenties, our favourite place for a grown-up family vacation is Hawaii.

Though we’re all Vancouver-born, Hawaiians treat us as if we were born there and speak only English (and a bit of Hawaiian) to us. Families with mixtures of all ethnicities are welcome. It feels like home.

Alesund, Norway
Alesund, Norway

We had a different experience travelling with cousins last August in Norway. In a public square of shops in the seaside town of Alesund, we saw a teacher talking to a group of high school students. For a moment, I thought they were talking about us.

Later it felt that they were all watching us. Finally, we learned that their assignment was to take photos of tourists . . . and those of us who looked Chinese or half-Chinese stood out.

An hour later, while walking around the harbour, we were approached by a motorboat with two elementary school boys. They pointed at us, laughed and mockingly made the gesture of bowing in the stereotypical Asian fashion.

The next day, in Bergen Norway, we ascended Mount Floyen, and on the peak was a sign proudly announcing nine recently born goats. Each had been given a name, and the black goat was named Obama.

Mount Floyen, Norway 1
Mt Floyen, Bergen, Norway


Mount Floyen, Norway 2
Mt Floyen, Bergen, Norway

We didn’t stay long enough in the country to find out if racist attitudes are endemic or if people just don’t realize what demeaning public signs say about them.

An abiding sense of belonging is one of the social determinants of physical and emotional health. It is a shared responsibility. As a society and community, we need to reach out to every member of the community and ensure all are supported in health and wellbeing. It takes a village to care for every person within it.

As individuals, we share a responsibility to connect to and support one another. In many neighbourhoods and particularly in apartment buildings, many do not feel a sense of belonging or connection.

We tend to see other people as The Other – a person who is different, strange, threatening or less than us. We can pre-judge others whom we don’t know based on their accents, skin colour, clothing, body shape and gender.

We can make broad, sweeping and inaccurate assumptions based on outward appearances alone. We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to connect on a truly human level. We sell ourselves short, and we all miss out.

Here’s an exercise that I’ve introduced at some of my public workshops. Participants turn around to face a stranger and after smiling but without talking, they are instructed to look into the eyes of the other as I say these words. You can try this out now but imagine you are facing another person you’ve seen in your neighbourhood whom you don’t yet know.

“This person was once a baby, loved and held in the arms of parents . . . just like you. This person was once a child with hopes and dreams . . . just like you. This person has felt alone and sad, heartbroken and disappointed . . . just like you. This person just wants to be happy . . . just like you.”

We are all a part of a greater whole, members of a family supported by a network of friends, neighbours and peers. We are part of a community, citizens of this country and members of humankind, connected to all living things, a part of nature and this planet.

My dream for a healthier community and society is for every individual to hear and believe the words, “You belong here.”

Next Saturday, February 9th, I’ll be speaking at New Westminster’s Century House to celebrate Inspiration Day. For more information, please call (604) 519 1066.


Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise column appears in the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.

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The Root Cause of the Problems of the World: A Limited Sense of Self

Tapestry Talk

What might be the root cause of the great problems of the world: poverty, homelessness, crime, violence, war, racism, discrimination, hunger and global climate change?

I contend that it is a case of mistaken identity: a false sense of self.

We each see ourselves as separate individuals – single selves distinct from other human beings, our neighbours, nature and the world. And with this illusion, we seek first what is best for our selves.

Even in our most significant relationships, discord arises with our differing views and competing needs; love and good will can be displaced by anger and resentment.

From the vantage of our separate selves, we create the illusion of the Other.

We can judge others in an instant, emphasizing differences (gender, age, body shape, colour, ethnicity and accent) with which we categorize them into groups of others.

They are then seen as competitors, enemies or threats whom we regard with fear, anger and hatred. Often we simply ignore them and treat their unmet needs and rights with apathy.

These attitudes widen the gulf between us and ultimately contribute to the problems of the world.

How can we close this gap and create a more cohesive community?

  1. We must first recognize that every human being has a personal story but also the same fundamental needs as you. We all need food, clothing, freedom, education, safe housing, meaningful activity and a sense of belonging.

We each share the same range of emotions. We all have our dreams and goals. We have all experienced disappointment, loss and heartache. We all want to be happy.

Only by seeing beyond our personal prejudices and recognizing the three-dimensional human being behind outward appearances can we foster empathy and care.

  1. We must recognize our shared connection and interdependency. None of us can survive without others. We take for granted public education, healthcare, safe streets and neighbourhoods. These are the products of the ongoing planning and work of countless individuals working for the greater good. Consider all the people who have contributed to you having food on your table – from farms to processing plants to warehouses and to stores.
  2. We must identify our shared challenges and not blame others as the enemy or the scapegoat. The problems in our community, including homelessness, hunger, injustice and crime, can only be solved with our collective creativity and collaboration.
  3. We can then begin building and strengthening our personal and social connections. This requires the support of our institutions, including our government, but it begins with each of us.

Where is the need? Who among us feels alone and needs help? What can we do together?

What is a stranger? Someone you don’t yet know.

When you are irritated by the lineups and crowds in the shopping mall or the traffic on our roads, ask yourself “What is a crowd?” and “What is traffic?” Lots of people just like you. You are part of the crowd and traffic.

When you ask “What is the world coming to?”, ask “What is the world?” You are. We are the world.

You are not just an individual. You are an integral part of a greater whole – a partnership and a family, a network of friends and a community, a part of humanity, nature and the world.

On Thursday, December 6th, 2018, I’ll be giving a free talk at the Bonsor Recreation Centre in Burnaby from 7 to 8:30 pm. The topic: The Positive Potential of Your Relationships. I’ll discuss how healthy relationship and social connections are essential to your happiness and wellbeing; the qualities of healthy relationships; recognizing and managing challenges, and how we can foster a greater sense of belonging and connectedness in our community. It’s part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients health education program. To register, email Leona at lcullen@divisionsbc.caor call (604) 259-4450.



Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Healthy Living Positive Potential Preventive Health Relationships

Your Health Depends on Your Relationships


Burnaby WWYD 1

What determines your health and happiness?

We know that it is much more than timely access to a good healthcare system. In the 2009 report of the Senate Subcommittee on Public Health, only 25 per cent of the health of the population was attributable to the health care system, 15 per cent was due to individual biology (i.e. genetics) and 10 per cent to environmental.

The remaining 50 per cent was due to a variety of social determinants, including poverty, work conditions, housing, diet and community factors.

One of the key determinants of physical and emotional health – and therefore, happiness itself – is our sense of belonging – our connection with our community.

Among the interesting findings of the 2013 My Health My Community survey were the responses to two questions addressing social connectedness. Only 45% of residents in metropolitan Vancouver had four or more people to confide in; 6% of residents had no one. Only 56% of metropolitan Vancouver residents felt a strong sense of community belonging. Not surprisingly, recent immigrants had lower rates of community belonging.

What can we do to nurture our social connections at a personal and community level and improve both our personal health and happiness and that of everyone in our community?

On an individual level, we could make our relationships a priority. Of course, at the end of every life, it is our relationships that were primal. Yet we all tend to take our most important relationships for granted.

Without daily care and attention, we can fall into conflict, become distant and neglect our most important partners in health and wellbeing. We spend more time and attention invested in work, school, personal goals and entertainment; they can take over our daily lives, leaving little for what and who matters most.

We must prioritize time each week and every day for the people in our lives. We must nurture positive interactions to offset our human brains’ natural negativity bias.

As neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson has said, our minds are Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good. We hear criticisms and demands from others more loudly than affection and appreciation.

Your child, friend and partner need to hear five positive comments to balance out one negative just to come out even.

We need real – not electronic – face time with one another. Our lasting happiness has nothing to do with experiencing transient pleasures and acquiring more material things. Happiness can only be enjoyed in the moments we are fully present, connected with our lives and the people that are an integral part of it.

You are not just an individual. You are part of a greater whole – a partnership and a family, a network of friends and a community, a part of humanity, nature and the world.

We can help others feel more connected in our community by getting to know our neighbours, recognizing what we have in common and offering assistance when and where it is needed.

As a community – at work or school, in our neighbourhoods, and in our church and social groups – what are we doing and what can we do to reach out and connect with others? We are all a part of a greater whole, and we each play a role in the health and wellbeing of our community.

On Thursday, December 6th, 2018, I’ll be giving a free talk at the Bonsor Recreation Centre in Burnaby from 7 to 8:30 pm. The topic: The Positive Potential of Your Relationships. I’ll discuss how healthy relationship and social connections are essential to your happiness and wellbeing; the qualities of healthy relationships; recognizing and managing challenges, and how we can foster a sense of belonging and connectedness in our community. It’s part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients health education program. To register, email Leona at lcullen@divisionsbc.caor call (604) 259-4450.


Burnaby Division of Family Practice Emotions Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Happiness Healthy Living Love Relationships Uncategorized

Healthy Relationships (Davidicus Wong)


Why relationships matter

  1. Social support from friends, family and partners are key to your emotional health and resilience.
  2. Harmony in the home is essential to your wellbeing.
  3. Loving friends and family support your health.
  4. Conflicts at home, work or school are major sources of stress and contribute to anxiety and mood disorders.

The sources of conflict

  1. Incompatibility (religion, culture, language, introversion/extraversion, values and beliefs.)

Game changers: incompatible values (core beliefs about right and wrong)

                                     abuse(physical, emotional or sexual)

  1. Cognitive Distortions– When we start seeing each other differently.
  2. Mind reading: making negative assumptions about the other’s intentions without checking them out.
  3. Excessive blaming: when something goes wrong (or is left undone), it’s the other’s fault.
  4. All or nothing thinking: seeing all of the BAD (and none of the good) in the other, in your relationship and your situation.
  5. Neglect and loss of intimacy.Too often we can let the rest of our lives take over our life together.
  6. Feelings change.We mistake the inevitable fading of infatuation and romantic love with not being in love. With attention and commitment, we can transition into enduring love, from passion to compassion.

The quirks that endear us when we fall in love eventually irritate us when the honeymoon is over, but they are the things we’ll miss when our loved ones are gone.

The 5 Love Languages (Gary Chapman)

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

The Qualities of Healthy Relationships

  1. Mutual respect– for our individuality, our feelings and our ideas
  2. Commitment to one another and to our relationship. We express our commitment with time, thought, patience, effort and a willingness to work together.
  3. Acceptance and management of the differences that make us unique– personality, passions, preferences, spirituality, customs. Extraverts are energized by people and parties; introverts need solitude to recharge. Extraverts need to speak to think; introverts think before they’ll speak. With acceptance and understanding, we complement one another.
  4. Unconditional love: mutual positive regard, compassion and good will.

Nurturing Your Relationship

  1. Foster emotional intimacy.Agree on a habit of checking in with one another each day. How are you feeling? How was your day?
  2. Show your affection.Express your positive feelings. Remember the 5 languages of love.
  3. Schedule regular dates. Commit your time to what matters most. Don’t wait ‘til there’s time; make time!
  4. Communicate in a healthy way.Take a breath and let anger cool before you react. Acknowledge the other’s feelings and point of view. Express how you feel without blame.
  5. When things get stale, have an affair . . . with your partner.

The Four Things That Matter Most (Dr. Ira Byock)

  1. “Please forgive me.”
  2. “I forgive you.”
  3. “Thank you.”
  4. “I love you.”


What you eat(What you put into your body). What you do(physical activity and rest).

How you feel(emotional wellbeing). How you connect(healthy relationships).