Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : January 2014

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Some of the happiest people I know have gone through some of the most difficult challenges in life. Often, life’s challenges force us to change our ways, and we are usually better off in the long run as a result. 

Many of my clients express gratitude after they have worked through their depression, anxiety, addiction, etc., because they can honestly say they are stronger, happier and better able to manage life’s other bumps in the road. 

Collected partly from my own experiences and partly from my clients’, I put together ten tips to a happier life:

  • Surround yourself with positive people. Take a hard look at the people in your life and make changes where you need to and where you can. Positive energy is contagious; however, so is negative energy.
  • Make generous use of your sense of humor, or work to develop it further. Laughing is very therapeutic. Reframe those little things in life that stress you out and find a way to laugh at them.
  • Don’t stress over things which you cannot control. For example, since you cannot control the weather, then you shouldn’t put any energy into complaining about it. Complaining can quickly tire you out. Find something positive to focus on.
  • Before you exert a lot of energy stressing over anything, ask yourself if you have control over it.
  • Empower yourself by accepting responsibility for what you can control. It often seems easier to blame others or the situation, but that just wastes energy. Use the energy to come up with solutions.  Even if you can’t control others or the situation, you can control what you do and how you handle it.
  • Get some exercise. Exercise reduces stress, depression, and anxiety. If you haven’t been exercising, start slowly and set a goal. Put exercise on your calendar to make it easier to accomplish.
  • Take risks. Trying something new helps build confidence.
  • Find a cause that inspires you and volunteer a few hours each week. Involve your family or friends to spend more time together.
  • Don’t dwell on the past or the future. Instead, focus on the present and appreciate what is going on today. 
  • Hold the door for someone, let someone merge into your lane, do something kind for someone else, and maybe they will do something kind too. 

We can’t control what happens in our life, but we can control how we plan to handle it.  Happiness is something you can obtain, but it might take some work.

LAP offers free, confidential counseling. Jim Quinn, LAP Director, can be reached at (443) 703-3041 or jquinn@msba.org.   Lisa Caplan, Program Counselor, can be reached at (443) 703-3042 or lcaplan@msba.org.

Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, CAC, is Program Counselor for the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin : January 2014

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