Are Lawyers a….Happy Bunch?

That question would elicit a chuckle from those who’ve heard and read enough about happiness, motivation and self-fulfillment. Go to any bookstore and you’ll find a lot of “Chicken Soup” type of books. They echo the same principles: be a positive thinker, reach out to friends and family, take care of your spiritual life, and cultivate empathy.


Despite the proliferation of “feel good” advice, there aren’t too many happiness surveys on lawyers. In other words: we know about their brilliant minds, but we’re not privy to their hearts.

So, do we dare tread into the private lives of lawyers, poke around, and ask if they’re capable of finding true happiness?

Of course! And that’s exactly what Duke Law School and University of Pennsulvanie professor Dan Bowling has done.

Bowling’s Happiness Tips

Not all lawyers keep therapists and bartenders busy, but Bowling sees a lot of unhappiness in the legal profession – so much so, that he felt compelled to create his 10 happiness tips, published in The Careerist. Here they are:

1.  Focus on your strengths –lawyers are happiest when they do legal work that taps their expertise.

2. Optimize optimism – avoid negative thoughts. Think of them as temporary setbacks.

3. Keep perspective – even if you don’t make partner, it’s not the end of the world.

4. Be physically active – fresh air and a pleasant walk would do you a world of good, especially when you’re overburdened with work.

5. Be sociable – this means support your support system. Tell people close to you that they matter and are worth your time.

6. Be grateful –feeling grateful, instead of feeling a sense of entitlement, makes a person happier.

7. Develop resiliency – this way, you’re better equipped to face everyday challenges.

8. Take a breather, meditate – even if you have deadlines looming large, take a break and appreciate what you have. Meditating calms the nervous system.

9. Keep your sense of humor – people are attracted to happy people; they avoid those who sulk and frown.

10. Love what you do…or get out and do something else –find something else that will put more meaning into your life.

What do you think? Do you have other tips you would like to share to help attorneys find happiness?

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