September 16, 2014 Practice Points

The Power of Positive Thinking

By Katie Foley

In the article, "Happy Woman, Successful Rainmaker," Katy Goshtabi analyzes the role positive thoughts and self-reflection can have on helping female lawyers be happy and successful. According to an American Bar Foundation study cited in the article, the general satisfaction of lawyers after 13 years of practice is 3.92 on a scale of one to five. The article also cites a CNN report that found that lawyers are 3.6 times more prone to depression than the rest of society. Goshtabi contends that the profession, and society as whole, encourages people to believe that they should first focus on becoming accomplished and getting to the top and then later focus on being happy. She argues that it should be the other way around; we should focus first on being happy and then we can be accomplished. Goshtabi's goal in writing the article was to provide women with methods to "get grounded, centered and be optimal lawyers and happy women."  

One method the article focuses on is Byron Katie's self-inquiry process known as "The Work." Byron Katie believes that a person's thoughts are what cause their suffering. Female lawyers are often under a high amount of stress from juggling work, family, and friends. This stress not only impacts our ability to effectively manage our time but also leads to low self-confidence. "The Work" is about stopping and listening to our thoughts and determining what we are actually thinking or believing. Byron Katie advises that one gradually works this self-reflection into one's daily routine. For example, the article talks about waking up 20 minutes earlier and taking the time to close your eyes and think about a thought that is causing you stress. This reflection will help provide you clarity on the issue. The article cautions female lawyers from viewing this process as just "fluff" because this type of daily self-reflection will help shift your mindset and ability to produce results as a lawyer." Goshtabi notes that by being self-aware one can become a "better, more positive, more grateful and happy person" and "even a greater force in other areas such as the practice of law/rainmaking."


Keywords: woman advocate, litigation, positive thoughts, self-reflection

Katie Foley works at Hinshaw & Culbertson in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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