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The Upward Spiral

Lawyers help others but take very poor care of themselves. In their quest to max out their earning potential and afford the best material goods our economy has to offer, lawyers lead a narrow, grimly serious existence without emotional rewards. They work inhuman hours yet always feel pressured for time. Since they never stop, breathe, and relax, they are frequently tense, irritable and ready to bark. Lawyers are highly competitive, results-oriented and easily shamed by losing. They see opposing lawyers as the enemy and they substitute suspicion, cynicism and verbal abuse in place of peaceful, connected communication. This has made lawyers sick, sick of being lawyers and sick both mentally and physically. In polls of career satisfaction, more than half of all lawyers say they would quit today if they could afford it. One out of every five lawyers has major depression or alcoholism. Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed than all other people working full time, and twice as likely to be alcoholics. It doesn't have to be this way. Lawyers can learn to let go of their manic pursuit of material wealth and value things like love, friendship, self-discovery, authenticity, spirituality and working with others to create something deeply meaningful. Lawyers can learn to overcome the polarizing us/them mindset which turns colleagues who deserve inclusion, respect and cooperation into enemies to be feared, mistrusted, hated and attacked. They can be taught to practice law with inspiration, enthusiasm, zest, pride and pleasure. They can learn how to practice effectively and yet still give themselves what human beings need - freedom, sunshine, fresh air, rest, ease, play, laughter, spirituality, creativity, and the pleasures of family, friendship and community. This book is a comprehensive self-help guide that can save the careers and lengthen the lives of lawyers under stress, and help them achieve the unthinkable - to feel happy, joyful, grateful to be alive.
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About the Author

Harvey Hyman majored in philosophy at Yale University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1978. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center he practiced law for 25 years. From 1986 to 2007 he successfully handled plaintiff's personal injury cases in San Francisco and Oakland. He consistently received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell signifying his peers viewed him as highly competent and ethical. In the 1990s he began representing many clients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mr. Hyman served on the Board of the Brain Injury Association of California, wrote many articles for the Neurolaw Letter on the effects of brain injuries, and lectured to attorneys and health care providers on cooperation to help people with TBI. In 2007 Mr. Hyman experienced a severe depression with hospitalization that changed his life. Prior to depression he hadn't acknowledged or dealt with the stress from constant work. He didn't care for himself by engaging in vigorous exercise, healthy eating, adequate sleep, quality family time, meaningful community involvement, spirituality, restful leisure, play or creativity. Before depression, he was hard on himself - always demanding victory in court no matter how weak his client's case or how strong his opponent's, and always quick to blame and criticize himself if did not achieve all out victory. To recover from depression Mr. Hyman began daily Buddhist meditation, daily physical exercise and other habits to promote health and happiness including gratitude, forgiveness, kindness to others and self-compassion. He is now a much healthier, happier, more social and more spiritual person, who notices and appreciates what the present moment has to offer rather than ruminating obsessively about his cases. Mr. Hyman is now in touch with his heart and his feelings rather than a brain in a glass case. Meditation helped him realize that all lawyers want and deserve to be happy, yet all of them suffer from stress and emotional pain; that all of them could use compassion; and that all of them could use education on stress management, especially those with chronic anger, depression, addiction to substances or suicidal thinking from stress overload. Mr. Hyman spent two years researching and writing this book.

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