Reframing Your Lawyer Life, aka Gratitude Rantings

One of the keys to happiness, in life and career, is valuing what you have. Everyone in our society forgets this from time to time, but lawyers do seem to have a special knack for it. That’s because we lawyers are trained to deconstruct, to find the flaw, to figure out what is wrong.

burst of light inside head
Focus your mind on what you can be grateful for, and you'll have more to be grateful for.

That kind of mindset can make us lose sight of what’s good in our lives and work. Even if, to quote a friend of mine from law school,  your life feels like “a whirling, sucking vortex of despair,” there are still things about it to be sincerely grateful for. You might need to reframe a bit to see that.

I haven’t been in whirling-sucking-vortex mode for a while, and I’m deeply grateful for that. But I do let life’s annoyance and shortcomings get to me, and a post from a high school friend on Facebook reminded me of that (see #1 below, and thanks, T!).

So below, another completely random gratitude list. I know, you’re thinking all Oprah and dissing it, but it does help. Where you focus your thoughts determines where your energy flows. Give it a whirl for a couple weeks, and see if your thoughts don’t zap your energy so much. Maybe you’ll gain enough positive juju to come up with a new career direction.

Today I am grateful for:

  1. The fact that I wasn’t born in a jungle where a river (if I’m lucky enough to live near one) is my bathroom/laundry room/kitchen. We are a pretty lucky society.
  2. Websites like exist, because a deep belly laugh is only a few keystrokes away.
  3. There are dozens of type of pink tulips about to burst forth.
  4. That I got out of a profession that demanded abandoning everything special and wondrous about me to remain in it. I kept me.
  5. My choir—the people and the music we make together.
  6. My Artist’s Way circle.
  7. The insightful musings of writers and thinkers like Martha Beck, Martin Seligman, Dan Pink, Seth Godin, and Brene Brown.
  8. My breathtakingly creative, sweet, energetic, contrary, and hilarious son. Seven is a magnificent age.
  9. That one of my biggest challenges this coming week is decluttering the house for my sister and niece’s visit. Life is OK when your biggest challenges don’t involve finding enough sustenance or shelter.

I don’t say any of this to make you feel guilty for having what you have. Instead, it’s to push you to appreciate what you’ve got. It helps put your problems in perspective, and that means you can deal with them more effectively. That’s the heart of what I help people with, and I hope it helps you today, too.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who helps unhappy attorneys focus on the things that have meaning for them, so that their life and career have meaning and joy. Contact her at for a discounted sample session to explore what coaching with Jennifer can do for you.


  1. Coffee isn’t on your list?

    Personally, I’m wondering whether I shoudl have coffee on my list or not.

    I’m thinking it’s time to take a break from coffee rather than another coffee break. And I’m drinking half-caf. Just waaaaay too much of it.

  2. Holy brain fart, Batman! Coffee should definitely be on the list, as should chocolate.

    I do not understand this concept of taking a break from coffee. Isn’t that like taking a break from breathing? Can it even be done? ;D

  3. I love this post and the concept of random gratitude lists. I try to post once a week (“Grati-Tuesday”) about something random I’m grateful for. To be honest, I’ve been slipping lately, and there seems to be so many other things going on that I “don;t have time” to take the 3 seconds to think of what I am grateful for in that moment. Thank you for the refreshing reminder!

    And is one of the funniest sites out there.


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