This is the first post in a new series, “Anyone Can Heal”, aimed at new healers – priests in particular – or those who have never healed before and are thinking of trying it out.

It’s really tempting to judge the other players in your group, especially as a healer. It’s understandable, too. Everybody does dumb things; we just tend to exaggerate the dumb things of others and downplay our own, so eventually, in our minds, everyone else is a moron and we’re the only good players in the group. (There’s no shame in feeling like this – it happens to everybody. We even get pissed off at our friends when we’re grouped with them – and sometimes when we’re not – because we privately exaggerate their mistakes.) It’s even easier to feel like this when you’re in a bad mood, which can result from other people’s mistakes – or perceived mistakes. The tank misses a mob and you get healing aggro, or the DPS is late on interrupting a silence effect, and all of a sudden the group is horrible and the instance is a waste of time. You just want to get your badges and get the fuck out.

The trouble is, your mood determines your performance. If you’re pissed off, you’re going to make mistakes, and you’re not going to heal as well as you could. You’ll target the wrong person with Greater Heal, and all of a sudden the tank’s at 20% and the rogue just got a face full of healing he didn’t need. You’ll hit Flash Heal instead of Penance, and your target won’t get enough healing. Worse, perhaps, is that you’ll start ignoring people who piss you off. DPS didn’t interrupt that silence in time? Fine, he gets no healing until he learns. Tank failed to grab a mob? We’ll see how he feels when you won’t heal him above 50%. Your healing gets worse, and everybody’s mood gets worse, and at the end of the instance – assuming nobody’s quit the group out of frustration – you disband the group and vow never to run with any of those people again. Maybe part of you realizes that they’re saying the same thing about you, but honestly, you’re probably telling yourself that you were the only good player in the group, and wondering how the other players even managed to level their characters.

All because someone made a mistake.

Herein lies the first lesson of being a good healer:

Smile.

You know that being in a bad mood can hurt your healing ability. It stands to reason (and psychology backs it up) that being in a good mood will improve your healing. When you’re happy, you make fewer mistakes, and you’re more forgiving and less resentful. What may not be self-evident is that, as scientists are finding, smiling actually improves your mood. A smile isn’t just a reflection of your current happiness; the act of smiling actually reduces tension, improves your mood (because you feel like you should be happy if you’re smiling), and – according to research – releases endorphins into your bloodstream. Endorphins relieve pain and cause a sense of well-being, so by smiling, you’re actively making yourself feel better.

And we know that the better you feel, the better you’ll heal.

Smile every time you get a chance, but make a specific effort at these times:

  • At the beginning of the instance, while people are buffing up
  • Any time you sit to drink
  • Before each boss pull
  • After the last boss pull

It’s easy: just put a smile on your face (you’re looking at the screen, nobody can see you!), breathe deeply – in through the nose, out through the mouth, if you can – and count to ten. Then go back to the game. You’ll be a happier healer, and a happier healer is a better healer.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave them in the comments section below!

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