Become a happier lawyer

10 tips for lawyers to feel younger, stronger, smarter, and happier as they age.

By James Gray Robinson, Consultant and Speaker

For lawyers, getting older means your thinking changes, your body changes, and your goals must change. As you start to realize that you are neither immortal nor bullet-proof, you need to change the focus of what you want out of life. Even if you have a healthy lifestyle, aging requires you to make allowances for a changing metabolism and health challenges.

At 64 years old, I have learned a thing or two about aging and being a lawyer that could help you feel younger, stronger, and more vibrant. Here are my top 10 tips for getting smarter and happier as you get older.

Check Your Hormones

I learned the hard way that our bodies change on a hormonal level as we age. Our thyroids decline and our testosterone/estrogen levels change during andropause/menopause. Many of the complaints of getting older are directly attributable to hormonal changes: sleeplessness, night sweats, chronic fatigue, lack of focus, memory loss, muscle loss, lack of stamina, and lack of libido. Consider going to a clinic specializing in hormone replacement therapy and get your levels checked out. Talk about a new lease on life! You might even feel 40 years younger!

Stretch

I exercise every day, but my flexibility sucks. A doctor told me to stretch when I was eight years old. I ignored him. Now I spend 15-20 minutes stretching every morning before I get out of bed. My lower back is a mess and my hamstrings feel like concrete. I started doing some simple yoga moves to help my lower back, called the “5 Tibetan Rites” (Google it). I hate them. However, they do make my body feel better and I don’t hurt so much when I exercise. If you can (still) touch your toes, you are ahead in the game.
Exercise in the Body You Were Given.

I have run five marathons, but my feet can’t take running anymore. I acknowledge that my feet are telling me something, like “Stop running, you idiot!” If you are 70 years old and still running marathons, I envy you. But I must live in the body I was given, and genetically, marathons are not a good idea for me. So I do some stretching and keep active with low-impact exercise every day. And if I do lighter weights with higher repetitions, I can get the same benefit as the gorillas in the gym.

Are You Really Going to Eat That?

Most people aren’t very conscious about what they eat. I remember skipping breakfast because I knew that there would be a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts waiting for me at the office. I have a sugar addiction, I admit. As I got older, I noticed that my body felt better when I consumed less sugar and more fresh vegetables. As you age, you may start facing things like insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and diabetes. The more sugar you eat, the more real that becomes. Not only has my thyroid gotten lazy, but my pancreas is not having much fun either. Simple carbohydrates are not your friend.

The Sun is Not Your Friend

Who knew that getting that George Hamilton IV tan every year would have consequences? I just had a piece of my face carved off because I had a basal cell carcinoma, which likely started when I got a third-degree sunburn on a trip to Florida when I was 15. People much younger than me are now dealing with skin cancer, so wear a hat, cover up, and use 50 SPF with wide band protection (baby sun block) on exposed skin. The professional golfers I play with don’t leave home without it.

Let Go of Expectations

As we age, some of us seem to lose our patience and our sense of humor – perhaps because we hate growing old. However, we could think of aging as an increase in knowledge and wisdom gained from our younger self’s experiences. Unfortunately, aging also involves soreness, stiffness, expanding waistlines, and certain body parts succumbing to gravity. I have a pet theory that people get bent over with age because they are carrying all their unrealized expectations on their backs. We all have regrets, but as we get older, they seem to calcify and get in our way. If you’re holding on to regret, realize that it interferes with your enjoyment of life. Let it go.

Get Naked

I realize that this will probably be a bit shocking to most lawyers, who are generally conservative in nature. Remember that you came into this life without clothing. Take off your clothes in the privacy of your home/cottage/whatever and enjoy the feel of the air on your skin. If there’s nowhere you can be naked outside without risking a public indecency charge, then walk barefoot on your lawn or at the beach. Spending a little time without clothes is cathartic to your skin and will wake you up! It also gives you the chance to appreciate that great body of yours.

Hug More People

As I got older, I started to feel like I was less attractive. The surprising truth is that as I got older, people wanted my hugs and appreciation more. I never knew my grandparents, so I never got many hugs from older people as I grew up. The best gift an elder can give to a younger is a hug. Does your law firm allow hugging? A hug raises your endorphin level and lowers blood pressure.

Check Your Blood Pressure

Hypertension is a silent killer. When I went to donate blood, I was shocked to discover that my blood pressure was 150/100. This was a wake-up call to start eating better, meditating, and exercising daily. I also take my blood pressure every day. My father had to quit practicing law because he had a stroke. Don’t be like him – start reducing those risk factors within your control now.

Meditate

You can’t keep ignoring the benefits of meditation. If you’ve never tried it, you can ease into the practice slowly by just sitting down and silently counting your breaths to 500: “One in [inhale], one out [exhale]; two in [inhale], two out [exhale],” etc. You can get to more advanced stuff later. Your body and your brain will love it. Meditation makes you calmer, less frustrated, and more alert – and it will improve all of the issues raised above.

James Gray Robinson was a third-generation trial attorney specializing in family law for 27 years. In 2004, he became a consultant who works with a wide range of people, professional organizations, and corporations. His mission is for all people to have fulfilling, peaceful career experiences and work environments. www.JamesGrayRobinson.com

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