So what’s all the fuss about this fluffy “happiness” thing then? And what’s it got to do with freelance (and other) lawyers? Well, a lot, actually.
Many experts in the new emerging science of positive psychology aren’t big fans of the word “happiness” - it’s too lightweight and overly related only to positive emotions. Instead how about “wellbeing”, “life satisfaction” and “flourishing”.
Whatever you want to call it (and surely it’s the whole point of human existence - but just in case you’re not yet on that bus), there is now a whole stack of compelling evidence that being happier will reap you a vast array of benefits, including:
- better conflict resolution skills
- enhanced health - a more robust immune system
- greater performance ratings from your manager
- higher pay
And the list goes on.
This stuff really matters for lawyers. They work in high pressure environments under huge client expectations. The stats for mental ill health issues amongst lawyers are not good. So it’s all the more important that they do actually have strategies to counterbalance these stresses.
Happily, a whole host of simple, practical tools and techniques to allow you to enhance your levels of happiness have been developed, tried and tested. So, if you want to become happier - you can!
Alas the reason a lot of people aren’t getting any happier is because they are looking in the wrong place. They are falling victim to the “happiness myth” (see the enlightening work of Sonja Lyubomirsky for more on this). So they are thinking:
“I’ll be happier when....[I earn £x; I get promoted to Y position; I meet the partner of my dreams; I reach my ideal weight of z kg etc]”.
In fact the research shows that changing these various circumstances in your life is likely to account for only about 10% of your happiness. 50% is probably genetic. That leaves you with about 40% that you can affect - and that’s about working on your attitude, approach and actions in life.
Here are three of the best simple, yet incredibly powerful, techniques for improving your happiness:
- Gratitude – write a list of everything in your life for which you should be grateful: people, relationships, experiences, stimulating work etc. Better still – once a week, take a few minutes to reflect on the previous week and make a note of a few things that have gone well.
- Mindfulness – learn to stop and listen non-judgmentally to your constant inner chatter. With practise you can develop a great sense of inner calm using some simple techniques (download the Headspace app as a starter).
- Acts of kindness – look for opportunities to help others – even the smallest acts of kindness can have a big impact on your happiness.
So if you fancy enhancing your performance and your well-being, why not take a little bit of time to work on your happiness.
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about the author
Michael Fleming is our Head of KWC Legal. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.