May 24, 2018

Are Lawyers Unhappy? (Part 6) – Lessons from Aristotle


Editor’s Note: This is Part 6 in a series of posts about lawyer happiness. For Part 1, click here; forPart 2, click here; for Part 3, click here; for Part 4, click here; and for Part 5, click here.

I’ve been blogging on the topic of lawyer happiness for a while. Aren’t we getting a little carried away? I mean, yes, we live in a country founded on “the pursuit of happiness,” and a lot of the guys who endorsed that idea were themselves lawyers, but that was then but this is now, so let’s not get carried away.

Not so fast. How about we go back, much further back, to Aristotle – not exactly everybody’s first choice as the Mr. Sunshine poster boy. Here’s what Aristotle said about happiness:

Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.

Wow. THE meaning and purpose and life, not just one option among many.

Plus here’s what he said about work:

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

Ever notice that people doing what they love do it really well? Think about yourself:  what do you love to do – in work or in life – that you do or would do for free? How well do you do it? Really well, I’ll bet.

Where ever did we get the idea that we can be unhappy in our work and do it well? Or be unhappy in our work and still be happy in the rest of our lives?

What if we lived in a world – and practiced a profession – where the norm was for each of us to be doing what we love to do? What would that do for lawyer happiness, both on the job and in life? Can you imagine that?

I can, and I’m on a mission to help create that world and that profession, one happy lawyer at a time. Maybe you’d like to join the cause?

What would it take? For one thing, courage. Here’s what Aristotle said about that:

You will never do anything in the world without courage.

If we want that world, and that profession, we’re going to have to get brave. Really brave. Are you up for it?

Kevin Rhodes is on a mission to help lawyers be happy. No kidding. In his writing, workshops, coaching, and consulting, he helps individuals and organizations to make transformative changes. He leads workshops on change for a variety of audiences, including the CBA’s Job Search and Career Transitions Support Group. You can email him at
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