Easy Ways to Deeply Enrich Your Personal & Professional Life
By Aaron H. Wallace, Esq.
We’re three days into Well-Being Week in Law 2021, an initiative of the Institute for Well-Being in Law and part of a full-blown revolution in the way lawyers think about life, work, and success.
If there’s anything we’ve learned so far, it’s that there is no clean dividing line between a lawyer’s personal and professional life. We lawyers are at our best when we are healthy, happy, well-rested, and have a sense that our work aligns with our values.
Strivers by nature, we lawyers value the notion that we’re always getting better… that our lives can be fuller… that we are explorers in the mysterious caverns of life and our greatest discoveries still wait ahead. In other words, we want to operate in an environment of growth.
Lawyers who take the time to nurture their curiosity and expand their horizons just might stand the best chance of overcoming the unhappiness problem stubbornly pervading our profession.
Naturally, our busy schedules stand as obstacles to personal growth. That’s why Florida Lawyers Mutual has assembled this simple Personal Growth Guide for Florida Lawyers, full of easy ways to deeply enrich your daily life as a Florida lawyer!
• Finding new music takes time. Let your streaming service do the hard work for you. Spotify and Apple Music each offer pre-made and custom-curated playlists for a wide range of genres. They’re basically “101” crash courses on new-to-you musical frontiers.
• Try a new genre. Are you harboring a latent bias against musical genres you’ve never explored? Don’t fancy yourself a jazz enthusiast or showtunes fan? Surprise yourself! Whether it’s easy listening or gospel, doo wop or film scores, or classical or international stylings, you just might find a “new you” in a fifty-year-old recording or another part of the world.
• “Tour” a discography. Pick an artist. Any artist. Preferably someone of universal cultural significance with a deep discography: Prince, Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Taylor Swift, Bette Midler, Elton John, etc. Go back to the beginning of their career and, over the next few months, listen to each album in order. As you do, use Google or Wikipedia to read about the album’s background, production, commercial performance, and critical reception. Soon, you’ll find yourself on a journey through someone else’s art, life, and career. When all’s said and done, you’ll have acquired a new and novel expertise!
• App it up. The next time you’re out in public and hear a song that piques your interest, the Shazam app will tell you the title, artist, and album title — and will even automatically add it to your personal playlist!
• Check out the classics. Agree or disagree: “They don’t make ‘em like they used to”? Decide for yourself and become more culturally conversant at the same time. Check out the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest movies ever made. See how many you can cross off your list by 2022!
• Explore movies about meaningful work lives. Cinema can be a kind of therapy (there’s even a podcast to prove it, but more on that later). If you find yourself stressing your career, be inspired by stories of people facing the same struggles. Try these on for size: The Devil Wears Prada, Glengarry Glenn Ross, Office Space, Up in the Air, It’s a Wonderful Life, Amadeus, Adaptation, Horrible Bosses, and Soul.
• Lift your spirits with joy-filled films. Early in the pandemic, I made a list of uplifting and optimistic movies to help a few friends struggling with the emotional weight of it all. Here are a few highlights from that list: Hello, Dolly!; Pollyanna; Life of Pi; Coco; Mary Poppins Returns; Big; Brooklyn; The Muppets; Midnight in Paris; Big Fish; Winnie the Pooh (2011); Big Business; Newsies: The Broadway Musical (2017); Won’t You Be My Neighbor.
• App it up. With the JustWatch app, enter any TV show or movie title and instantly see which streaming service carries it. You can even create a watchlist and get alerts whenever your favorite streaming platform adds the title you want.
• Test your sense of humor. There’s more than one sense of humor. What’s yours? Find out with this free online assessment developed by psychologists.
• Get serious about humor. In Humor, Seriously, two comediennes-turned-Stanford professors make an evidence-based case that a sense of humor is imperative to professional happiness and business success. It’s the Financial Times’s #1-recommended business book!
• Marathon the greats. In researching Humor, Seriously (above), the authors sat down to watch every episode of “Saturday Night Live” since 1975. They learned a lot about humor and human nature. You might too! Whether it’s “SNL” (streaming on Peacock and Hulu), “Seinfeld” (Hulu), or “The Simpsons” (Disney+), you’ll be amazed at the insights leisure viewing can afford you.
• App it up. Netflix has carved out a niche in standup comedy, now producing more standup specials every year than any other major studio. Once you’ve identified your sense of humor using the aforementioned tool, use Netflix and find a comic to match!
Podcasts are the new radio, only they offer way more variety than AM or FM could ever allow! True-crime and celebrity podcasts tend to top the charts these days, but in honor of Well-Being Week in Law, we think you’ll enjoy these motivational masterclasses:
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin — Formerly a lawyer and law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Rubin is now a New York Times bestselling happiness expert, with practical tips to make everyone’s life more meaningful, efficient, and enjoyable.
- Movie Therapy with Rafer & Kristen — Founded on the belief that there’s an entertainment title for whatever you’re facing, this new-ish podcast has been building buzz all year long.
- Super Soul — Hosted by the Queen of Talk herself, Oprah Winfrey, this celeb-and-guru-stuffed series promises to help you “awaken, discover, and connect to the deeper meaning of the world around you.”
• Read 21 minutes every day. On her Happier podcast (above), Gretchen Rubin encourages listeners to “read 21 for 2021” — that’s 21 minutes a day every day this year. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to 127.75 hours of reading in a year’s time! True, Well-Being Week in Law means it’s May already, but it’s never too late to start!
• Treat your books like a baseball diamond. In addition to the one you’re reading (i.e. home plate), have three more books waiting on base. That way you never delay a day in deciding which title to tackle next. (Yes, audiobooks count!)
• App it up. Goodreads is the definitive tool for creating reading lists, getting recommendations from other readers, and keeping up with your favorite authors. 90 million people use it, so you’ll have no trouble connecting with readers whose interests mirror yours.
Florida lawyers have the privilege of living and practicing where other states’ lawyers vacation. Explore your city like a tourist would! Discover hidden history, independently owned eateries, and new items of interest. It could take you years to fully exhaust your own backyard! When that’s done, take a trip one town over… and keep going from there!
• Look for books on local history. Alternatively, you might consider a travel book written for out-of-towners. There’s probably a lot in there most locals don’t know!
• Find photographs of familiar streets or structures from at least 50 years ago. Compare them to the way they look now.
• Support local museums. See how long you can spend without repeating the same exhibit or artifact twice. Annual passes are often available at low rates, so you can come back later and bring a colleague, family member, or friend!
About Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company
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