Thursday, November 28, 2019
Law.com, Attorney Mental Health: 'Thanksgiving' Isn't Just a Holiday:
Lawyers are hardwired to notice the negative in every situation.
But then Thanksgiving comes around, with its tradition of reflecting on the year and expressing gratitude for the good things in life.
And experts ask: What if the Thanksgiving feeling lasted all year?
They say the season creates positive emotions and can increase connections to loved ones. It’s a welcomed reprieve from the high-stress, adversarial profession that has created a lawyer population suffering from depression, anxiety and substance use disorders at rates higher than the general population.
“Lawyers, more so than others, need to be more intentional about cultivating positive emotions,” said Anne Brafford, a former equity partner in Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, who’s transformed herself into a positive psychology Ph.D. student and lawyer-wellness aficionado.
The idea behind a gratitude practice is easy enough: It means taking time to think intentionally about people and positive events that create feelings of thankfulness. One of the well-known iterations of the practice is called, “Three Good Things,” where attorneys keep a journal that explains the events that made them grateful and the reasons why. While some people practice gratitude every day, researchers have found the practice less effective when it becomes a chore.
Once per week is enough, as long as the lawyer keeps it up, according to Brafford.