Friday, March 19, 2010

Be Grateful, Be Happy

This week I'm in St. George at the Utah Bar's Spring Convention. Our keynote speaker today was a psychologist who studies why people are happy. Lawyers need to be happy because we have twice the risk for drug and alcohol abuse and suicide as the general population. It's because we are trained to look for the worst-case scenario.

It seems there are ways to increase your happiness, and happy people are more resilient than those who are not. One way to be happy is to create exciting and pleasant memories. Another is to find a cause you believe in and donate your time or money. This is a case where money actually can buy happiness. But the best way to be happy is to be grateful. The speaker suggested writing a letter to someone to whom you are grateful for something. Instead of sending the letter, take it to the person and read it to them. Keep a gratitude diary. Write down what you are grateful for, why you are grateful and what you did (if anything) to foster that feeling of gratitude. Studies have shown that depressed people who do this are able to overcome their depression by this alone. It looks like the saying "develop an attitude of gratitude" was right all along.

No comments: