You know the stereotype about how lawyers are happy all the time? Me neither. Lawyers suffer from high rates of alcoholism, depression and suicide. (Note: If you feel like harming yourself, it is a medical emergency -- please call 911 right now. There are people who care. I care. The world needs you. So please get help.)
But sometimes unhappiness is just unhappiness, nothing serious. If all you need is a little perking up, here are five ways to become happier right now:
When we're happy, we smile. It's unconscious, which shows how tightly the brain and the facial muscles are connected. Well, that connection works both ways. Just smile and see how it brightens your mood. It can work. Seriously, it's science.
Science to the rescue once again. Exercise raises the level of phenylethylamine, a mood-elevating chemical in the brain. Try walking or running for 30 minutes. Sound awful? Just commit to doing one minute. There's no excuse not to do one minute, and it'll start you on the path to forming a healthy habit.
3. Get Out in the Sun.
Humans weren't meant to be kept indoors in dim light all the time. No wonder so many people get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Even if you don't have SAD, getting outside can boost Vitamin D production and improve your health and mood in other ways.
4. Change Your Internal Dialog.
We humans have a constant stream of words going through our heads and sometimes our inner voice is a downer. Pay attention and challenge the things it says when they don't make sense. Don't catastrophize. I hate my job can often be downgraded to today sucks. I'm fat can be changed to I'm a little heavier than I'd like to be, maybe I'll go for a walk in the sun. As Shakespeare said, there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Consider writing down a script of good things to think and look at it when your inner voice gets out of control.
5. Watch Pharrell Williams' 'Happy' Video.
Feel free to clap along and dance too, if you're so inclined:
- Dealing with Depression (Helpguide.org)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (SuicidePreventionLifeline.org)
- Lawyers, Suicide, Depression, and Prevention for Young Attorneys (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Top 5 Ways to Avoid Attorney Burnout (FindLaw's Strategist)