Wellness and the law is a topic I am deeply passionate about. Having myself had to overcome what I call ‘unhappiness’, I now spend a lot of my time exploring wellness, happiness and even joy in legal practice. Having researched the science of happiness and published my book ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ I have come to learn that with some thought and effort there are things we can all do to be ‘happier’ in law.
No doubt you have been throwing around those new year resolutions for 2020 so why not toss these 3 simple ‘happiness tips’ into your planning too-
- BOOK YOUR BREAKS
This one is an essential happiness builder! At the beginning of each year there is nothing I like more than pulling out a large annual planner, a set of highlighters and setting the dates for our holidays for the year ahead. I do this before I get back to work in January so that I always know when my next break is coming.
Many of us lawyers are workaholics and tend to fall quickly into the trap of thinking it is easier not to take the break as there will only be a bigger pile of work to do when we get back! But let me promise you, when all is said and done, none of us are going to be looking back on our lives and thanking ourselves for those extra hours we invested in our workplaces when we should have been off enjoying the sunshine with the people we love most.
So do it now- pull out a full year calendar and a brightly coloured highlighter to set those dates and lodge those leave applications. Breaks are essential to your happiness.
- CHOOSE YOUR MINDSET
I am, by nature, an optimistic person, but it turns out most lawyers aren’t. With more pessimists in our profession than most, the pessimistic lawyer is never hard to come by. No doubt, they excel at their job given their natural ability to find problems well before they arise.
Some of us are naturally more ‘glass half full’ than others, but optimism is something you can create. This is the beautiful thing about how we think. You are in charge of your own thoughts and you can change them by training your brain to think in a particular way and changing what you are doing. I don’t mean in the career sense; I mean in the day-to-day, living your life, caught up in the hustle and bustle sense.
When it comes to being a happy lawyer, a positive, optimistic approach is key. Optimistic people handle stress better, get sick less and even live longer. Now, why wouldn’t we all want that?
The language we use can really affect our mindset. Last year someone wise suggested I replace the words ‘I have to’ with the words ‘I get to’. So not one to ignore a good happiness tip, I did and I can say it really has made a difference in how I feel about all the things ‘I get’ to do. My daily to do list that is often spanning 4 pages is now titled ‘Look at all the great things I get to do’!
So here is my 2020 challenge to you- every time you catch yourself saying ‘I have to…’ change the words to ‘I get to…’ and let me know the result!
- MAKE 2020 THE YEAR OF THE ‘THANK YOU’
As human beings, we need social connection. We need friends, family and support around us. Our brain is hardwired to be part of a bigger community. This is central to our survival. My study of the science of happiness continues to show me the same thing over and over – good relationships keep us happier and healthier.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest running studies on human behaviour, has found that the quality of our relationships is directly connected to our health and length of life. The research from Harvard makes it really simple – good relationships (and it is quality here that really matters) keep us happier and healthier and are a key to helping us live longer.
When it comes to being ‘happy’ the people we surround ourselves with make a big difference so why not make 2020 the year of saying ‘thank you’ to all the people that matter to you! In 2017 I bought 52 gift cards in January and each week made the effort to send a card to someone who had made a difference in my life. In this day and age of emails, social media and 24/7 distractions a hand-written card goes a long way. In 2020 find your way of saying ‘thank you’ and do it every day.
Just what amounts to happiness is different for all of us but there are some common themes- a feeling of contentment, a sense of belonging, purpose and meaning. Many studies have shown that being ‘happy’ improves all aspects of our lives. The University of Berkeley’s ‘Greater Good Science Centre’- one of the world’s leading ‘happiness research centres’ reports that happy people-
★ are healthier
★ have improved relationships with others
★ are more productive at work
★ cope better with stress
★ are more creative
So why wouldn’t we all want to be happier lawyers!
Hi, my name is Clarissa Rayward and I am probably best known as a Divorce Lawyer and the Owner of Brisbane Family Law Centre. I specialise in assisting my clients to experience a dignified divorce- staying away from the Court process and finding sustainable agreements for the future.
More recently I have begun to tackle the challenging issue of unhappiness in the legal profession through my weekly Podcast ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life‘ where once a week I interview lawyers who have found a way to maintain a successful career in the law while not giving up their life outside of their career.
In January 2017 I published my second book, ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life- How to the be Happy in Law and Life’ and launched the first ‘Happy Lawyer Happy Life’ online course, helping lawyers nationwide to better understand how they can drive happiness in their careers. I now spend my days juggling my Family Law Practice, my family and helping lawyers all around the Country to find happiness in their careers.
If you would like to learn more about how I could help you through any legal matters associated with divorce and separation or perhaps you are a lawyer looking to learn more about the work I do in that space, then please feel free to organise a time we can speak here.Book your complimentary chat with me here
And if you are after a little more help to start 2020 on a ‘happier’ foot why not join the next round of my 8 week online Happy Lawyer Happy Life Course. The next course kicks off on 27 January 2020. For 8 weeks you will be hanging out with a supportive community who are all focused on making the best of their careers in 2020. No matter your age or stage, the Course can assist you. All you will need is an email address and about an hour a week to work your way through some fun activities and modules! And yes, the course ticks that CPD box too.