Thanksgiving is upon us. For some, holidays are a joyful time and a wonderful reminder of what we have. For others, however, the holidays bring stress and depression.
One way to bolster your internal defenses against stress and depression is to make a conscious effort to give thanks. Being in a state of thankfulness is healthy and leads to more contentment. Just as negative emotions make themselves more permanent in your psyche the more you focus on them, positive emotions stay with you if you make them a habit. One method of cultivating an attitude of thankfulness is to write it down. At the end of each day, write down three things you were thankful for that day. Instead of looking for things to be unhappy about, you can note that for which you are grateful.
Let me suggest a place to start:
- You have the privilege to practice law. Many dream of being a lawyer, but not everyone gets to live that dream.
- You have clients. Clients don’t just pay the bills. They refer new clients, present opportunities to learn new skills, give you feedback if you’re open to it.
- You have a life filled with opportunities to experience, grow, and change. You had the smarts and energy to get yourself through law school; surely you can find these opportunities and make the most of them.
- You have challenges. While unwelcome now, challenges will make you stronger and better in the future.
You can just “be” thankful or you can acknowledge your thanks to your family, friends, colleagues,clients, and community. Do it — in person, over the phone, with a handwritten card, or by email.
Celebrate Thanksgiving this year by trying conscious thankfulness. Better yet, make it a year round habit and see if you feel differently and your practice changes as a result.
Editors’ Note: If you are concerned about stress or depression in yourself or others, check out the resources provided free through Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. As we’ve noted in a previous post, we can all do more to assist lawyers suffering from depression.