Change Your Miserable Lawyer Life—With Facebook. Really.

I firmly believe that Facebook can change an unhappy lawyer’s life. Just not in the way that other people think it does. I mean, yes, connection is wonderful. Entertainment certainly eases the crush of boredom and tedium that is often law practice. And yes, you might even get some clients, start a romance or make some enemies or whatever.

Change your life---find the funny in your annoyances, and post it!

Change your life—find the funny in your annoyances, and post it!

My favorite use for Facebook, though, is to make life’s little annoyances and tragedies a little bit funny. In doing that, I’ve found that I obsess much less over the annoyances, hurts and heartaches of life, get over them faster, and—maybe the biggest bonus—get to take my creativity out for a spin.

Here’s a recent example, just so you can see how my demented (but charming) mind works. I noticed one morning that the clean silverware in the dishwasher had been put into the drawer. I knew I hadn’t done it. So I said to my husband, who was slaving over his laptop doing all manner of indecipherable IT things, “Thank you so much for unloading the dishwasher! I really appreciate it!” To which he responded, “You’re welcome.”

After I’ve finished the school run and get back to my empty house, I thought I should put the morning dishes into the dishwasher before getting to work. I opened up the dishwasher and there sat a bunch of dishes. CLEAN dishes. For a few more moments than I care to admit, I was pretty ticked off about this. It hit a lot of those marital sore spots about communication, paying attention, and a laundry list of other things that I won’t bore you with.

I desperately wanted to post something really bitchy, snarky and my-husband-sucks on Facebook about it. Along the lines of “I’m so sick of this shit!”

But that would violate my personal rules about not whining, complaining, or generally airing my dirty laundry on Facebook. So I had to figure out a funny way to relate my little tale of ire and woe. After working it over in my head for several minutes, I came up with:

I’m not sure what label to put on it, but I clearly don’t live in the world where “I emptied the dishwasher” means “I had our son put away the silverware and left everything else in the dishwasher.” That is, however, the world my husband lives in!

I admit I may not have completely succeeded on avoiding snark and a whiff of complaining, but compared to how I initially felt about it, this was a vast improvement.

And that’s pretty much the point: By focusing on how to view the whole thing as funny, rather than the source of anger and frustration, I was able to do an important thing, psychologically speaking: I reframed the situation. I (mostly) got over being angry. I made the best of something that wasn’t ideal. And that, according to noted psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, is a key to happiness in life.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who helps unhappy attorneys put some happy into their lives. If you’d like to do that, schedule a discounted, sample coaching session with Jennifer. Contact her at jalvey@jenniferalvey.com and get going into a happier life!

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6 thoughts on “Change Your Miserable Lawyer Life—With Facebook. Really.

  1. So true! Perspective is powerful. In a similar vein, last week I asked for help in cleaning up. My young son said, “What do you want me to do?” and I pointed at the clean silverware basket in the dishwasher, expecting he would put the clean silverware away. A few minutes later he happily declared he was done. I turned and saw that he had taken all the silverware in the drawer and put it in the dishwasher basket. I had to laugh. (It was a good reminder that not everyone sees the world like I do! Although, to be fair, I’m still not sure what he was thinking.)

  2. I’m going to be yet another Jennifer contributing to this discussion, but I really enjoyed this piece! I always say that anything in life I can wring an amusing blog post (or Facebook update) out of can’t be all bad…and I really think that’s true. One of the many benefits of social media outlets: perspective.

  3. When I was young I was a master reframer. I practically craved “misfortune” and inconveniences because they meant I could tell others a hilarious story.

    I think one thing working against being a happy lawyer is the way that we are taught to reframe things. Basically, we spend our creative energy reframing things in the way that is most advantageous to our client (even if not best for society) or in the way that helps our client realize how bad things could get and how he needs us to help him stave off the danger of the cruel, cruel world.

    Maybe it’s time I reframed the purpose of my gift for reframing.

    • Sounds like a storyteller/comedian is dying to get out, Summerrain! Maybe you could at least take your writer out for a spin or two, somehow?

      • Wow! You’re good. In high school and college I wrote tons of fiction, plays, poetry and music, but haven’t done that in probably a decade. I didn’t realize that a skill for creative re-framing ties back to that. I guess it makes sense. I have been toying with the idea of trying to write fiction and poetry again, but I put the pen down so long ago that, honestly, it’s scary to even think about picking it up. Maybe this weekend I will give it a try.

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