Byte of Prevention Blog

by Will Graebe |

IWIL Annual Well-Being Conference

The Institute for Well-Being In Law (“IWIL”) held its annual conference on January 23-25, 2024. The conference opened with a keynote address from Yale psychology professor Dr. Laurie Santos. Dr. Santos is the host of the popular Happiness Lab Podcast. The conference included three days of additional presentations from nationally recognized authors, mental health professionals, bar leaders, and law professors on topics ranging from perfectionism to emotion regulation to burnout. In one session, state and local bar leaders from across the country discussed the efforts being made in their jurisdictions to prioritize lawyer well-being. 

In Dr. Santos’ keynote address, she discussed ten insights about happiness that she has discovered through her work and research.

  1. Our minds tend to lie to us about how happiness works. She explained that money alone cannot bring happiness. Santo discussed the lottery study where researchers found that lottery winners get an initial boost to their happiness but return to the same level of happiness after only a brief period of time.
  2. It is normal to feel negative emotions. Negative emotions have a purpose. They are signals to our brain and body that something needs to be addressed. 
  3. We need to connect with others. Deep connection with others is the biggest predictor of happiness at work and in our personal life.
  4. Shifting your mindset from one of negativity and complaining to one of gratitude can have multiple benefits. By practicing gratitude regularly, you will be happier and more productive. And, by expressing gratitude to others with whom you work, you will increase their productivity. 
  5. Engage in healthy practices. This includes daily exercise, good sleep habits, and a healthy diet.
  6. Be present (mindful) as much as possible and savor the good things that happen in your life. We have a tendency to focus on the negative things that happen in our lives. Santos suggests sitting with and marinating on positive events. 
  7. Allow yourself to sit with negative emotions without getting stuck. Santos recommends using Tara Brach’s RAIN method: a) Recognize what is happening and describe the emotion you are feeling; b) Allow the emotion just as it is; c) Investigate the emotion without any judgment and notice how it feels in your body; and d) Nurture yourself by doing something kind for yourself.
  8. Give yourself the gift of self-compassion. Mindfully notice how you are talking to yourself. Talk to yourself the way that you would talk to a close friend or family member who had messed up. 
  9. Learn to love your job by focusing on your strengths. Use job crafting to change your job in a way that focuses on your strengths.
  10. Value time more than money. Focus on those small chunks of time that you have and fill those with something positive. 

About the Author

Will Graebe

Will Graebe came to Lawyers Mutual in 1998 as claims counsel. In 2009, Will became the Vice President of the Claims Department and served in that role until 2019. After a two-year sabbatical, Will returned to Lawyers Mutual as claims counsel and relationship manager. In his role as claims counsel, Will focuses primarily on claims related to estates and trusts, business transactions and real estate matters. Will received his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Stetson University. Prior to joining Lawyers Mutual, will worked in private practice with the law firm of Pinna, Johnston & Burwell.  

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