The New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program
Is Here for Your Well-Being - Weekly Email #7
NJLAP is reaching out to New Jersey attorneys to let you know that we are here for you during this COVID19 emergency. Although our offices are closed, staff is working from home, and you can reach us at 800-246-5527. We also are posting updated information on this special page, and on our Facebook page, which is linked at the bottom portion of our homepage.
In addition, we will be sending out these weekly emails, with new article and links to provide supportive and helpful information. See below for this edition.
In this issue:
- Lawyer Well-Being Week - Registrations Now Open
- The GI JOE Fallacy
If you are reading this online or a friend has shared with you, you can subscribe to our Balance e-newsletter to get future editions directly. After this emergency is over, Balance will return to a quarterly schedule.
NJLAP, in cooperation with the NJSBA Lawyer Well-Being Committee and with special help from the NJSBA Young Lawyers Division is celebrating in Lawyer Well Being Week with week-long presentations. Some of the subjects being presented include:
- Well-Being Habits
- Being Present
- Time Management is Stress Management
- Spirituality and Well-Being
- Social Health
- Vicarious Trauma/Trauma Informed Lawyering
- Mindful Practice
The G.I. JOE Fallacy
Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology and Tamar Gendler, Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, both at Yale University wrote an article recently entitled “2014: What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?” In the article they talked about the G.I. Joe Fallacy. It refers to the 1980's children's show and its repeated end of show tag line uttered to Johnny, Tommy, Mary, Alice, etc.: “Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.”
We've heard the expression, “Knowledge is power. “While it may be true in many areas, it is not the whole story when it comes to making lasting and productive changes in our lives. Knowing something cognitively or intellectually such as getting more exercise, more sleep, eating healthier foods, being more grateful, performing more acts of kindness won't necessarily cause you to do those things or get you to a better place in your life. Aristotle and the Stoic philosopher Epictetus saw the issue as one of action. They both believed that in the end you “Become what you Do, not what you think or feel.” Athletic shoe maker Nike proclaims, “Just Do It.”
Most people have a pretty good idea as to what needs to be changed in their lives. As they say, “Doing it is another thing.” Doing doesn't just pop out of nowhere. It is rooted in intentionality, self-awareness, emotional self-regulation, mental agility and optimism. All of these variables contribute to what Positive Psychology has come to call “Resilience.” Barbara L. Frederickson, PhD is one of the most highly cited scholars in Positive Psychology. She refers to Resilience as the ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences by using flexible adaptation to the changing demands of stressful experiences.
According to Positive Psychology, resilience is how an individual leverages everyday life challenges to become more productive and grow. Using and developing positive emotions plays a major and critical role in contributing to a person's psychological and physical well-being.
Resilience begins with developing Self -Awareness. Self-awareness of what? Awareness of my negative thoughts, feelings, unhealthy behaviors, even my body physiology. What is my body telling me at this moment? The next step after Awareness is challenging your negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
The third step is using and/or developing positive emotions learned from the Sciences of Resilience and Happiness.
What if I don't experience positive emotions like gratitude, kindness, and optimism on a consistent basis? What if I am a recovering pessimist and I am crankier than the next person?
Here we are confronted by the proverbial “good news, bad news” scenarios. First, the good news. The science and research on Resilience and Happiness tells us that you can “learn” how to think more optimistically or be more grateful or how not to always see the glass half empty. Now the bad news. Change takes three essential features: Discipline, Intentionality, Effort (DIE). This takes us back to our friend G.I. Joe and his main fallacy.
Knowing that it takes the three essential features of DIE won't get you there. Knowing is rarely the central factor controlling our behavior. If you believe the Neuroscience, a good 70-80% of our behaviors are driven by unconscious forces and motives. Knowing what's good for you doesn't necessarily translate to doing what is good for us. From Psychotherapy we see many examples of people in long term therapy. Some for over 10 years, but nothing much has changed in their lives. They have plenty of insight (knowing) with respect to the extent and severity of their problems, however, the actions and behaviors required to solve these problems are not enacted. Insight without action does not produce self progress and growth.
So try this simple formula of (DIE) Discipline, Intentionality and Effort. Remember, sometimes you have to DIE to live a better life.
Ramon Ortiz, Senior Attorney Counselor
New Jersey Lawyers Assistance Program
What Scientific Idea Is Ready for Retirement?