Saying that it’s okay to want to be happy might sound a bit ridiculous to you. Maybe you think it’s obviously true; maybe you think it’s totally unrealistic to care about your own happiness. Certainly life has many challenges and difficulties, and I’m not trying to suggest that it’s realistic or attainable to never experience any emotion other than happiness, or to pursue happiness as your only priority.
But here’s the thing—I know a lot of lawyers who don’t actually think it’s okay to want to be happy. They think that whether they are happy in their career or not is completely irrelevant to whether they should continue working as a lawyer. I know this—because at one point, that’s what I thought. And I know I’m not the only one.
But it is, in fact, okay to want to be happy. What’s more, I think you should care about whether you are happy. Why do so many lawyers expect themselves to be soulless automatons who achieve, achieve, achieve without any consideration for the impact on their selves?
If you’re wondering this as well, or you struggle to believe you can want to be happy, I have a great recommendation for you. Since creating Former Lawyer, I’ve discovered so many fantastic people doing great work to help lawyers find career satisfaction. One resource that I love is The Happy Lawyer Project Podcast with Okeoma Moronu.
This episode of the podcast features Shinah Chang of Crooked Calligraphy. Shinah talks about how extreme unhappiness in her legal career led her to leave her biglaw job and eventually start her own calligraphy business. Anyone who has found themselves really struggling in their legal career will identify with this interview. Shinah has some great thoughts about what to do when you find yourself in that truly miserable place, and how to prioritize caring for yourself and your own happiness.