In the New Year, resolutions are made, aspirations are high, and we each have the intent to have the best possible coming year. What about making gratitude an integral part of your life this year?
So. What is gratitude? And how can I incorporate it into the practice of law?
Gratitude is giving thanks, feeling and being thankful and appreciative for what you have, where you are, and what is now - the present. Gratitude makes everything you have enough.
Incorporating gratitude in the practice of law can easily be folded into your everyday routine. Consider the following tips and remember, be patient with yourself and take one step at a time.
1. Start the day - either mentally or physically - recounting what you are grateful for. You can be grateful for the warm, quiet rest you just had, to the roof over your head and anything in between. If you like to write, get a special journal, and make a list of what things you are grateful for each morning. Make it a morning ritual. If you have a busy morning before you get out the door with kids or walking the dog, consider taking a few seconds once your alarm rings to put in your mind and heart what you are grateful for.
2. Spread your gratitude. Say thank you, open doors for others, and do one kind thing for a colleague or even for a stranger. You never know the difference you might make in someone else's day by just slowing down and being a little kinder than usual. As a litigator, go out of your way to be extra thoughtful to even your most dreaded and despised opponent. Compliment your adversary on a job well done, forget your ego, and, for a change, be courteous to the other side. As a non-litigator, emphasize the importance of your employees’ work to your practice and let them know you appreciate their contribution to the overall administration of justice.
3. Practice present-moment appreciation. Put down your electronics, push back from your desk, lean back in your chair, look up at the ceiling, and bring the moment into your consciousness and awareness. Take a deep breathe and be thankful for your life, its meaning, and your contribution and service to others. By staying in the present, you slow down, and can truly appreciate what you are experiencing - from preparing for a trial, writing a brief to meeting with clients.
4. Observe your surroundings, especially the natural environment. What do you hear, smell, sense, feel? As lawyers we spend nearly all of our time inside at a desk immersed in the demands in the tasks before us so it can be difficult to pull away, observe, and even take in fresh air. If you have just five minutes to pop outside for fresh air and sunlight it will contribute to your feelings of calm and wellbeing. If you do not have any time during the workday to get outside, try to incorporate a pre-work or even post-work routine that includes spending time outside, observing and, if possible, exercising.
May this be a gentle reminder of the positive contributions that you can each make in the legal profession and, on a larger scale, the world by practicing gratitude. It is never too late to show kindness, be gracious, and start to practice gratitude. May you seamlessly and successfully practice gratitude and law in 2018.