Friday, November 26, 2010

Gratitude Researcher Says Lawyers Aren't Very Grateful

I was reading some legal blogs today and came across this article that says lawyers are not a very grateful bunch.  First of all, what the hell is a "gratitude researcher?"  Apparently, there is a field of study - under the guise of psychology - that studies how people develop a "warmly or deeply appreciative attitude for kindnesses or benefits received."  Gag me, seriously.  Some people may read this and think gratitude is an important emotion.  It seems that "gratitude researcher" Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis would agree with you.  Apparently, this guy Emmons sat down and talked with a group of lawyers and had a rough time.  I'm not surprised.  He wanted to sit down with a group of lawyers and talk about emotions.  He claimed that he had never met a group of people more resistant to the idea of gratitude, except maybe teenagers.  You can read about Dr. Emmons' take on gratitude here.

Why are lawyers so resistant and ungrateful? According to Emmons, it's possibly because "some of the main obstacles to being grateful are fears of dependence, indebtedness, and loss of control. Lawyers are people who emphasize self-control and self-reliance. They don’t want to cede control to others or owe anybody anything. It may also have to do with lawyers being called upon to face and solve problems all day long. When all you think about are problems it’s harder to feel grateful."  It sounds like they're trying to say these qualities are a bad thing.  I think they're great qualities and I am grateful (see what I did there?) that I have them!

Being controlling, critical and cynical are great qualities for a lawyer to have.  If you’re a control freak, you’re less likely to make an expensive error when drafting a detailed document.  The entire legal profession requires noticing subtleties and having a keen attention to detail.  If you’re a critical thinker, you’re less likely to miss the weaknesses in the other side’s argument.  If you’re cynical, you’re less likely to be taken advantage of during the discovery process.  Of course, many people would correctly say that having these qualities doesn't mean we can't say "thank you" every now and then.  So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought about all that I have to be thankful for this year.  In no particular order:

- The old cliche never dies - I'm thankful for all the friends and family I have.  I have met many people out in Hawai'i who don't have great relationships with their friends and family (hence, they ran away to an island).  My friends and family, however, have all been incredibly supportive of the fact that I moved out here and have been tremendous listening posts...even when I don't always return the favor as much as I (possibly) could/should.

- Although I often complain that my job is boring and unfulfilling, I'm thankful that I have a job actually using my degree in this economy.  I know several lawyers, with ridiculous and spirit crushing debt, that don't have jobs at all.  And mine is in a tropical locale where it's always 82 degrees and sunny.

- With that in mind, I'm thankful I graduated law school.  There were a few moments over the last few years where I didn't think I was quite going to make it.  With all the challenges and difficulties associated with law school, the job searching, and the disappointments, I am thankful to have been able to successfully make it through to the other side.

- I'm thankful that so far, the challenging and scary endeavor of moving to an island thousands of miles from home has worked out so well.  I have a great roommate who has introduced me to dozens of people.  I have met some really friendly and welcoming people who have made my move here a fairly seamless transition.  I couldn't imagine tackling such a daunting challenge without them.  They're why I didn't spend Thanksgiving eating a microwaveable egg roll alone in my room.

- I'm thankful for the people who actually read this blog (and their comments! hint. hint.).  I'm sure it really is just a way for them to procrastinate or avoid work themselves, but I'm still grateful that they let me provide some entertainment.

1 comment:

  1. By the way, are you aware that when you edit your blog we can see the words you have crossed out? I cannot decide if this is a deliberate, ironic, post modern effect, or just a mistake.