Do What Comes Naturally

Would you like the practice of law to be easier? More creative? To feel like it’s not really work at all, but so intriguing that time stands still?

One of the ways to tweak your current job for the better could be to do more of what comes naturally.

Positive psychology researchers believe that using our “signature strengths” identified on the Values in Action (VIA) inventory, consistently and in new ways at work can improve our work satisfaction, move us toward a “flow” state, and increase our positive mood and in turn our creativity.

So what are VIA strengths? They’re the 24 human strengths that are the backbone of positive psychology –qualities that are universally admired by all cultures throughout time. They include qualities like bravery, kindness, perseverance and gratitude. And signature strengths are those almost can’t help but use; they are so a part of who we are.

How do you discover yours? By spending about 15 minutes to take a free online test developed by positive psychology researchers, asking yourself if the results ring true and if not, checking in with those who know you well to be sure you’re not “blind” to some of your natural strengths.

Then ask yourself if you’re actually using your true strengths regularly in some aspect of your law practice, whether it’s in legal analysis and advocacy, business development, or in client/colleague relationships.

If you’re not using your strengths, how might you? And if you are, how can you use them in new ways?

What Should You Unsubscribe From?

I don’t know about you, but my e-mails are having babies. It seems that every vendor I’ve favored, either online or in person, is my new best friend. And what are friends for if not for letting you in on the latest clearance sale with free shipping or – in case you’ll soon be cruising – some can’t-miss summer items for the ship.

True, some of the offers are educational. I never knew – till yesterday, when it was offered at 63% off – that green-coffee-bean extract might may “reduce the release of glucose into the blood to support healthy blood-sugar levels and aid in weight reduction.”

The most effective mode of birth control seems to be Unsubscribe. But the Un-Subscription drive can be rocky. Here’s a shout-out to those who make it easy with “instant unsubscribe.” One click and you’re done. Not so much happy shouting to those who are sure you didn’t really mean it and want you to verify. And a giant groan to those who need you to dig out your password, change your settings or review of list of 15 possible message types you would still like to receive.

A positive thought in all this grousing. Asking the question, “Is this clutter, or is it moving me forward?” is good practice for cleaning closets, managing time, and reviewing relationships as we steam forward in 2015. What else in your life do you need to unsubscribe from?

Women Learn To Give and Take

Learning how to give at the office and also effectively ask for help are important skills in a law firm environment. To help women lawyers master these, Pat conducted a Reciprocity Ring™ exercise for a mid-size law firm. The exercise, described in Adam Grant’s book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, had some encouraging results, as described on Pat’s blog for Ms. JD.

Pat’s Study of Successful Women Lawyers

What makes women lawyers succeed? As her capstone project for a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Pat administered the Brief Strengths Test to women attorneys named to the Super Lawyers directory. Of those participating, the character strengths of gratitude and kindness were most prevalent, and the women used them regularly in their practices. Among women in the study, the more emotion-driven heart strengths predominated over the more analytical head strengths commonly associated with the practice of law. A full copy of the study, which includes recommendations for law firms, may be accessed below.

Super Women Lawyers: A Study of Character Strengths


Pat Reports On Positive Psychology

In October 2012, Pat received her Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) degree from the University of Pennsylvania. In her “Balancing Tips” newsletter, she writes about the most effective positive psychology interventions you can apply in your personal and professional lives. During the MAPP program, Pat studied with leading positive psychologist around the country, including Martin E.P. Seligman (Authentic Happiness, Learned Optimism, Flourish), to learn how to apply the new science of optimal human functioning to individuals and communities. Her newsletters are archived here.

“Balancing Tips” Available Monthly

Subscribe to Pat’s award-winning e-newsletter “Balancing Tips” by clicking on the article headline. “Balancing Tips” is available monthly, providing reflections on the balanced life and researched-based tips to optimize your well-being.

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