Tag Archives: happiness

Mind & Body


In mid-May, I injured my back. While stretching before a morning run I felt some pain and questioned whether running was a good idea, but I decided to give it a try and stop if the pain persisted. It turned out to be a great run with no pain at all, but as the day went on the pain returned and intensified. I have now struggled with back pain for over three months and have endured a frustrating cycle of feeling better, running again, feeling worse again, feeling better again, and so on.

Establishing a relationship with a new doctor in Nashville has not been easy, but I recently made it in to a fantastic physician who ordered x-rays on my back that confirmed that there is no acute injury. He then referred me to a spine center to determine the next steps, so help is finally on the way.

I would love it if that was the only challenge but aging doesn’t seem to mind multitasking.

I have had stomach issues for most of my adult life, but they came to a head (um, wrong metaphor) over a decade ago that led to a change in diet, exercise, and lifestyle that was life-changing in a good way. But there have been some ups and downs in the last few years, particularly in my willpower when it comes to diet, and about a month ago I may or may not have had a stomach virus—all I know is that it wasn’t pretty–and something clicked in my brain that reminded me that Southern comfort food is not very comfortable for me.

So the new doctor suggested I add a low-FODMAP diet to my GERD diet, which basically means that I can only eat cardboard as long as it is baked and without any extra flavoring. I am suddenly gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, and all other kinds of free that ironically aren’t anywhere near free at the grocery store. All of this is a pain in the neck, but I am astounded that I am fully locked in mentally to this new way of life. And as long as it is a pain in the neck and not the stomach or back, I’ll take the trade.

As I walked to the office last Friday I met possibly the happiest human on the planet who proceeded to tell me about his happiness—and how happiness leads toward good health, too. He reminded me that we all get to choose our attitude and then said something profound that I intend to hold on to for the road ahead. He said that sunrises and sunsets are totally different but equally beautiful.

Here’s to looking for beauty regardless of, well, anything.

A Night at the Orchestra

17267869_230418650696729_6304749396227522560_n(1)Last week, my oldest daughter and I attended a concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, or as we sophisticated people call it, the LA Phil.  The specific concert was titled, “Tetzlaff Plays Dvorak,” which as it turned out, was not a tennis match after all.  

You may be surprised to learn that I did not attend orchestral performances growing up in Paragould, Arkansas.  We had our share of drama, sure, but not much orchestra.  The closest I came was purchasing the soundtrack to Close Encounters of the Third Kind on vinyl.  

But who knew, if you purchase a ticket and have a beautiful date, “LA Phil” will apparently let pretty much anyone into the crazy cool Walt Disney Concert Hall.

I really did enjoy (most of) the performance, but my cultural unsophistication did allow my mind to wander to less-than-cultured places from time to time.  Like whether the guest conductor also played Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  And how one particularly animated violinist looked like a marionette under the influence of a tipsy puppeteer.  And how two gentlemen with a remarkable resemblance to Stephen King and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy were playing an unidentifiable instrument that made them look as if they were smoking fancy grenade launchers.

But the best part of the evening came shortly after intermission when a woman in our general vicinity began to painfully unwrap a piece of candy, which in that hall of hushed reverence sounded like she had trapped a squirrel in a bag of potato chips.  The surrounding patrons were silently livid, which my daughter and I discovered to be the funniest kind of livid to watch.

Much more seriously, as we sat side by side listening to classical music in Walt Disney Concert Hall, it occurred to me how far Erica and I have come in our precious years together.  I did not feel smug in this thought–as this essay shows, I remain far too ignorant to feel arrogant.  And yet I did not feel out of place either, even though that was obviously the case.  Instead, I just felt happy .  Happy at the honor of allowing such beautiful music to wash across my soul in that spectacular venue in this magical city with such a lovely young lady that I have been privileged to walk alongside for all these years.

I never imagined an evening like that one.  I wonder what other evenings I have yet to imagine?

Job Satisfaction

Although today is technically our first full day of classes, last Monday felt the part since we make such a big deal out of welcoming new students. On that day, I arrived at work at 6:34am and noticed that I was the ninth car in the parking lot. How early do I have to be to be the first one here? When I got out of the car and donned a suit jacket, I noticed Professor Baker running around (literally running, and literally around) the law school complex. I yelled a morning greeting, and he responded, “I’m on a prayer run!”

(If you are unfamiliar, a prayer run (or walk) involves circling a place and praying for the big things that may occur there later on—as opposed to my version of a prayer run, which is praying while I run that I won’t end up in the hospital from said run.)

I then walked into the building and saw Abby and Connie at the front desk, already prepared to welcome our new students. Sure, it was possibly 6:37am by this point, but still. Music was playing over the speakers, and I looked down into the atrium to see our events manager, Suzanne, actually dancing. It may have been 6:38am by this point, so of course everyone should be dancing by then.

I write this to say that my colleagues have diagnosable problems and need professional help.

Well, not really. Instead, I was struck by the privilege to work with such amazing people.

Larry Krieger is a Clinical Professor at the Florida State University College of Law and is well known in legal education for his scholarship on “law student and lawyer health and satisfaction.” I had the honor of hosting a panel that featured Professor Krieger last January where he discussed his brand new article on lawyer happiness, but many law schools have featured his booklets on stress and career choices for years.

In his booklet on career choices, Professor Krieger argued that two things can lead to job satisfaction: (i) actually enjoying what you do; and/or (ii) work that is meaningful to you. If just one of those is true, you can be happy at work. If neither is true, no amount of money, perks, or benefits can produce job satisfaction.

If you have both, you are blessed.

I am blessed.

I recognize that much of the world lives (and much of world history lived) in conditions where “career choice” is oxymoronic, but if you live in a land and time where it is not, choose your target wisely.