The head of the neuroscience lab at NYU, Dr. Elizabeth Phelps, has pointed out, “If you are pessimistic, you are unlikely to even try” to do things that will help you improve or guard your health. Wow. This may, just possibly, sound like a familiar dynamic to lawyers.
The good news is, pessimism is not completely hard-wired. It is, to a significant extent, learned behavior. That means, naturally, that it can be unlearned, and replaced with more useful ways of viewing problems.
Sometimes, signature strengths help clients see themselves in a whole new light. One client, who had worked in a big law firm and then in an attorney general’s office, found that “creativity” was one of his top, or signature, strengths. At first, he thought, “but I’m not artistic!” When he read the description of creativity, though, his world changed in an instant.
He realized that opening a business aimed at an emerging type of health and wellness was highly creative, and went off to do just that.
I view following our interests and joys as giving the Universe more material and opportunities to work some seeming magic in our lives. If you stay really firmly in your narrow rut of to-do lists, it is just harder for those coincidences—which aren’t really coincidences at all—to happen.
In many ways, my life recently has felt like I’m right back in the corporate and legal world overload. But this time, I’m handling it better than ever before. I chalk this up to 3 or 4 practices I’ve adopted in the last few years: Meditate. Work Less. Sleep. Have Fun. Yes, simple, But simple isn’t always easy. Do it anyway.
You’re taking a huge risk by not following your calling. You are risking that you will survive, physically and mentally, in good enough shape to one day be able to follow your heart’s desires. Considering the high rates of depression, addiction, suicide, and chronic illness among lawyers, that’s a pretty damned risky path, too.
If you suspect you may have depression—even if you think it’s just because you work in a hellhole, and you will be FINE once you leave—go ahead and get help. Because unless you’ve got a job offer in hand, you’re going to be there for at least a couple more months. And take it from me, those “couple more months” often translate suddenly into 6 months or 9 months or a year, between workload and inertia. That’s a long time to be depressed, untreated, and miserable.
being in an environment that pushes you way past your default personality traits can make you hostilejudgmental, anxious, brittle and impatient. You can find the job that aligns really well with your purpose and gives your life meaning, but if the daily environment doesn’t match your personality needs, you’ll end up stressed and possibly confused about why.
Stuck in the office for the rest of your life? Time to create beach reading time for yourself, even if your only travel plans are to and from the office for the foreseeable future. If you really want to embrace the idea, put on your bathing suit and find an umbrella to sit under. At the very least, get a cold drink, stick a tacky paper umbrella in it, curl up on the couch, and put your nose into a book for a few hours.