A landmark 1990 Johns Hopkins University study found that lawyers lead depression rates among 104 occupations analyzed–lawyers were 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than other employed persons.
While clinical depression can stem from a variety of sources, many of our colleagues lament that they could be happier. Here are 3 tips for moving closer to that goal.
(1) Put “fun” on your agenda. Lawyers are pros at managing project lists and completing tasks. When those lists and tasks grow beyond reason, unscheduled activities (like most of your non-work life) get sacrificed. Take advantage of your goal achievement skills by turning fun activities into a scheduled goal. If a weekly movie night with your kids or a semi-annual fishing trip with your pals is on your to-do list, you can add fun to your agenda and sate your goal achievement tendencies by checking off the “fun” box!
(2) Indulge the adventure impulse. Some lawyers are conditioned to defer happiness (through law school, long work days, years pursuing partnership, etc.). If this is you, clear your schedule for an evening alone and start listing things you could do during that time. As soon as you think “that sounds like fun,” follow your impulse and indulge it!
(3) Pay attention to now. Sometimes you do things that “look fun on paper” but don’t seem to result in increased happiness. Pay attention to what you’re thinking, feeling and doing during these times. If you are thinking about the past or thinking about the future (or checking your Blackberry or doing a post-mortem on your last deposition), you are not taking in the present. Make sure you are paying attention if you want to maximize your fun!