News |5 min read

How My Fake Fire Warmed My Soul

By: Kelly Swanson, AADOM’s 2018 Conference Keynote Speaker

Hello my new future friends at AADOM.  I am so excited that I get to come and play a part in your 2018 Conference. It’s the middle of winter here, I’ve already broken my new year’s resolution, and I’m crashing down hard from the holiday sugar buzz. It’s back to real life and the dreary days of winter. I don’t know about you, but my life can get pretty stressful. Too much to do and too little time to do it in. Personal and family obligations mixed in with work obligations, add in those “difficult” clients, and I’m already burned out before the day even starts. Then I have to see all the happy skinny people on Facebook who have better cars, more obedient children, and fancier vacations, and I can feel pretty discouraged. Some days I just feel like my tank is running on empty. Can you relate? I think you can.  Because no matter what our job, where we live, or what we have on our plate, life can become dreary at times. So maybe if you’re experiencing a moment like that, this message will bring you the comfort it brought me, and keep you warm until we can meet in person and I can make you laugh and lift your spirit. See you in July, when I’m sure I will be complaining about the heat.



One of the biggest items on my wish I had this list is a fireplace. I love the crackle of a fire. Fires make me want to cuddle up in slippers with a cup of coffee and write a novel. Fires remind me of my best family memories growing up. Fires make me feel creative. I can even get misty eyed at the sight of a gas log fireplace. But my house wasn’t built for one, and to add it is too big a challenge. So I’m doing the best I can. With a fake fire. A real fake fire. A Netflix fire.

Yes, there are actually movies on Netflix that consist of nothing more than a crackling fire playing for two hours. So beside my Christmas tree with twinkling lights, and gingerbread candle collection, I now have a huge computer monitor sitting on a table with a crackling fire on live stream. You laugh. But I love it.

So what does this have to do with anything? I’m getting there. Just sit tight and follow me for a minute.

My family laughs at my web-induced fire. They come and warm their hands by the screen. They check the carpet for wayward sparks. They can laugh all they want – but the sight of that fire in my office makes me really, really happy. A fake fire brings almost the same joy. Hhhhmmmmm.

Here’s the really odd thing about my fake fire.

It’s warm.

You are going to find this hard to believe. Even my own family is flabbergasted by it. But we all swear that when you walk near the computer it gets warmer. My husband says he can point out the exact spot where it starts to get warmer. My son insists on doing his homework in this room because it’s warmer. I was cold this morning when I settled into my office to write this article, but once I started my fire, I had to remove my sweater. And we all swear we can even smell burned wood.

Now we all know that the Netflix fire is not warming my room. So what’s going on? Something pretty amazing. Our brains are showing us a fire, and telling us how we should feel. Fire equals warm. Fire equals happy. Fire equals a certain smell and sound. Our brains are telling our bodies how to react. Our brains are actually making us feel warmer!

That, my friends, is the power of our thoughts. The power of that script running through our head. If seeing a fake fire can actually make us feel warm, then imagine what our other thoughts are causing our bodies to do.

That inner voice tells you that you’re stupid, and you obey.

That voice that tells you that you are useless, and you believe.

That voice that tells you that you don’t deserve happiness, and you agree.

There are many things happening around us that we will never be able to control. That’s life. But there is one very big thing happening in us that we can always control – the way we think. It’s not as easy as I’m making it sound, but it’s not as hard as you may be making it.

Your happiness at work. The way you treat your patients and co-workers.  The decisions you make. The words you speak. How you function at home and at work. They are all a result of the story line running through your head.  Stress isn’t what’s happening to us – it’s the way we process it.  The story we write.  You can become more peaceful at work.  Find patients easier to work with. And actually love what you do. If you control that story running through your head. 

So next time you feel yourself headed to a bad place – anger, bitterness, worry, hopelessness – try lighting a fake fire. Try tricking your brain by giving it something else to focus on. A different thought. A new belief. A positive story line. A new flame. Because what you feel is not always what is true. And sometimes, you’re just one new phrase away from being warmed by a new fire.

Gotta run. I smell smoke.

One thought on “How My Fake Fire Warmed My Soul
  1. Avatar

    Thank you for that very enlightening information. I think I need a better fire for myself. Great writing!

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