What Can Thanksgiving Do for Your Law Practice?
Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.
The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner. In the tradition of our forebears, it’s a time set aside for sharing with others and expressing gratitude. Can carrying the lessons of Thanksgiving into our law practices throughout the year help us experience more prosperity and enjoyment?
Here’s what studies have shown:
- People who kept a gratitude journal on a weekly basis felt better about their lives and were more optimistic about the coming week than people who recorded hassles or neutral events.
- They also had fewer physical symptoms and made more progress toward important goals over a two-month period.
- Young adults who engaged in daily gratitude exercises had higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy than participants who focused on hassles or ways that they were better off than others.
- Compared to a control group, adults with neuromuscular disease who engaged in gratitude interventions had more high energy positive moods, felt more connected to others, viewed their lives more optimistically, and slept better.
- Grateful people don’t deny or ignore the negative aspects of their lives, but they experience less depression and stress. They report higher levels of life satisfaction, vitality and optimism.
- Grateful people place less importance on material goods and are less envious of wealthier persons. They are less likely to judge success (theirs or others’) in terms of possessions accumulated.
- People who write about indebtedness to others feel more anger and less appreciation, happiness and love than people who write about gratitude to others. Source: Highlights from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness
- Across human cultures, psychologists have identified the “Rule of Reciprocation.” When people receive a gift, they feel indebted to the giver and want to reciprocate in order to repay the indebtedness. Givers often receive reciprocation in excess of what they give. Source: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.
- In studies on the correlation among income, spending and happiness, happiness correlated with the amount spent on others rather than the absolute amount of income. Source: ScienceNOW: “The Secret to Happiness? Giving.”
- Giving money away increases feelings of subjective wealth on par with actually receiving windfall gains. Source: Harvard Business School Doctoral Program: “I Give, Therefore, I Have:” Philanthropy and Prosperity
Eminent gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons, Ph.D. reported that he found a group of lawyers more resistant to gratitude than any other group, except teenagers. Studies also reflect high rates of depression among lawyers. Could there be any correlation?
Perhaps this Thanksgiving can be a time for starting your own experiment to see what impact gratitude and sharing can make on your sense of enjoyment and prosperity in the practice of law. I have written in the past about actual business rewards that real lawyers have garnered from acts of kindness and generosity. Will you share with me what you find?