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Legal Profession Burnout: Practical Solutions

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Legal Profession Burnout: Practical Solutions

This course addresses US and legal profession challenges with achieving and maintaining competence despite a prevalence of significant mental health and distorted thinking challenges. Burnout represents an occupational mental health challenge that attorneys must avoid or manage, and doing so will provide professionals the tools needed to mindfully maintain mental competency.


Jim Eischen: This is Jim Eischen, and the following presentation is on professional burnout practical solutions. This is about getting a better handle on work related stress with wellness, education and guidance. So, I'm Jim Eischen and I've been an attorney for about 32 years. I do quite a bit of healthcare regulatory business planning work. And about six, seven years ago, I was a partner at a large firm in San Diego and was asked if I would be willing to give a talk on mental competency for the California Western MCLE blowout for attorneys trying to make their hours in California. And what I was told is that I seemed unusually happy for being a partner in a larger firm. And because I'm a healthcare lawyer who does presentations around the country, I'm used to speaking about medical legal issues. So maybe I could give a talk about competency.

   So, thinking that this was purely community service and it was, I agreed to do it. And like any good attorney or for that matter law student or student in general, I did my homework. I'm not a psychologist, I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm not a mental health professional, but I researched what I could find about the legal profession and the mental health challenges posed. And I was pretty shocked by what I discovered. So I assembled an early version of the talk and I focused on burnout because it struck me that professional burnout was a systematic challenge, a mental health challenge for the legal profession, whether it's law students, attorneys practicing, judges, really everyone in the legal field. It seemed to me when I did my homework, I saw evidence of significant burnout. I gave the talk, it went well. And it seems like since then, I have been continually asked to do updated versions of this talk.

   And so here I am for Quinbee giving a version of this talk on professional burnout for the legal profession, frankly, the information applies to all professions and to all people, but I'm going to tailor this toward law students and attorneys. But like I said, I think it applies to everyone. And so let me begin the talk with two parables intended to make a little bit of a point. One parable involves two monks walking down the road and seeing a very large boulder. The one monk looked at the other monk and said, "You know, that large boulder is simply in your head." The other monk said, "Wait a second, that massive boulder is in your head?" He said, "Yes." He said, "Man, your head must be really heavy." Point of the parable is that while we think everything's in our mind and that everything's a matter of perception, there are some objective realities, including large boulders.

   And I want to impress on you that I think mental health challenges and the challenges of professional burnout specifically, aren't just in your head. These are significant challenges that are real. They're not make believe, they're not something we imagine. And it's like that large boulder in the road. It's a big, heavy rock, and it's really there. The other parable I want to mention is about a young student meeting a senior professor for the first time. And the professor sort of sizes up the student and starts pouring the student a cup of tea. And then when the cup is full continues to pour causing the tea to spill. The student of course is slightly taken aback and says, "Teacher, what are you doing?" Teacher said, "You're like this cup, your cup is full. I don't know how I can teach you if your cup is full."

   And I mentioned this story to make the point to try to come into this subject matter with an open mind and not with too full of a teacup, so to speak. But that, I mean, you may think you understand mental health and I'm not a mental health professional, but I've done my homework in this area and I'm going to present to you some information based on that. And based on having given versions of this talk for several years. There's always something to learn and I approach this subject with curiosity and an acknowledgement that I certainly don't know everything. So, let's start with the very basic question. What is burnout? And burnout is really simply emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. And this is a real thing. This is not simply just a matter of fancy words. People really do suffer from burnout and the legal profession is by no means immune to this.

   In fact, if anything, I would think that the legal profession is particularly susceptible to it. So what are the signs and symptoms of burnout? Well, there's physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. The physical symptoms involve feeling tired, drained, lowered immunity, frequent illness, frequent headaches, or muscle pain, change in appetite or sleep habits. The emotional components can be senses of failure and self doubt, feeling helpless, trapped, defeated, detachment, feeling alone in the world, lost motivation, increasingly cynical and negative in outlook, decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. And then finally, what are the behavioral symptoms? Withdrawal, isolation, procrastination, maybe using food, drugs, or alcohol as coping mechanisms. Maybe taking up frustrations on others, skipping work, coming in late, leaving early. All of these things when you look at them together, essentially point to a sense of despair in isolation. It's detachment. And this happens to everyone who is undergoing significant stress.

   The legal profession is not immune. The WHO recently, and the WHO is the World Health Organization. Sorry. So, the WHO recently defined burnout as a worldwide syndrome, a work related at mental health, chronic workplace problem. And the WHO's definition involved feelings of energy, depletion and exhaustion, increased mental distancing from the job, negative feelings toward career and reduced productivity. And productivity is the key here. There is a cost to this. It's not free. This burnout when left unchecked causes system wide damage to not only the individual experiencing that exhaustion, that isolation, that lost motivation, but think about it. You know, the legal profession, the product is that us. We are the product. Our thinking, our analysis, our ability to communicate, our ability to analyze objectively. And then to effectively advocate or analyze and communicate to a client or to the court or to a jury.

   And if we are impaired, the system is impaired. And so we need to think beyond ourselves and realize that our profession, the judicial system, perhaps our families, perhaps our significant others, family, are all impacted if we have burnout that we aren't adequately addressing. Work related causes of burnout, it's more of the same tune. Little or no control over the work. Lack of recognition or reward, unclear and demanding job expectations, monotony, lack of challenge, chaotic or high pressure environments. Gee, it sounds like that could be the legal profession. Does it not? Let's approach it from lifestyle. What does it look like from a lifestyle perspective? Well, it means maybe working too much and not making time to socialize. There's that isolation. Lack of close and supportive relationships. There's that isolation. Too many responsibilities and not enough help from others. There's that isolation. Not enough sleep, which sometimes I think we tend to think of sleep as optional, it's really not. What are the personality traits that can be considered contributors to burnout?

   Well, perfectionism. And we all know that in law and other professions too. There's little or no room for error. We're in an environment where error is not welcome and is often the cause of some significant criticism. Pessimism. Now, in the legal profession, what do we do? We analyze and assess risk. And then we explain risk to clients, at least from a transactional perspective, if we're transacting, we are reducing risk through the way we draft negotiate draft documentation from an advocacy perspective, when were in court, what are we doing? We may be casting aspersion on a witness who is not favorable to our side of the story. We may be arguing [inaudible 00:10:29] against the positions being adopted by our opposing counsel or our opposing party. There's a lot of inherent pessimism in the legal profession. And that can contribute to a risk of burnout. There's a need for control and not delegating sufficiently. This is very common I believe in our profession to feel like we really can't assign to others that maybe only us, the anointed wizards of law can handle.

   And we'll talk about cognitive distortions later. And ultimately this is about talking about the high achieving type A personality. So, what's my point? The legal profession definitely shares attributes that can be contributory toward burnout. We can get isolated, we can be pessimistic, we can be perfectionistic. We can put ourselves in work situations, whether in school or in our profession where we are not adequately connecting with others, kind out of in our heads and coping with significant stresses, perhaps without adequate support or not knowing where to go for that support. This talk is going to talk a little bit about what some of the tools might be to go find that support. Before I shift into the next segment of the talk, which is public health information about mental health, just want to point out that in no way do I think this talk is a replacement for solid mental health treatment. There is a need for professionals in the mental health sphere. It is part of healthcare. And just like when we have an infection, we get antibiotics, we should routinely believe and know that when we need mental health support, there's no judgment.

   It's not a lack of character, it's not because you came from the wrong family, it's simply an illness that needs treatment. And so what we're going to talk about in this talk, are things that we can do to better assess our mental health, maybe better support it, but in the end of the day, none of this is a replacement for professional help when you need it. So I just want to make sure that that's crystal clear. I'm not suggesting that this talk is going to address your bipolar disorder, major depressive issues, addiction, of course not. But what this can do is give you some tools for your toolkit, so you know what to look for, you know what you can do to try to support your mental health and just like we try to exercise and eat right, and have a decent lifestyle in order to overall help our health, none of us think that that alone is going to prevent disease.

   We know that's not true, it's illogical. Disease and age is inevitable. So we all do the best we can, but we also know that things happen and when they do, you need help. Go get the help when you need it. So, when I looked at mental health facts, I was really struck by some very key statistics that blew me away. One out of five Americans has a mental health issue that is likely not treated. Now, you might have anecdotally observed this if you've been driving on a road or freeway or been out in the public and observed some of the behavior that occurs among us. And maybe it's obvious to you that one out of five, maybe even one out of four Americans has a mental health disorder, just in case you were thinking that I want to assure you that that's accurate. And this is what I think is sad. It's probably not treated. It's probably not treated.

   Another key takeaway from the mental health statistics that I look at for this talk is that there are 18 to 22 military veterans committing suicide every day. Now let's stop for a moment. If we were in some sort of war or pre-war or some version of hostile conflict, 18 to 22 casualties a day would certainly get our attention and maybe even motivate us to allocate resources to save our troops. But why is it that when it's a mental health issue and it's a healthcare issue, we all of a sudden shift from the desperate need to protect our military to, I don't give a... Fill in blank. And that's to me, pardon the word crazy. I think it's illogical to think that we can have that level of attrition and not pay attention to it and invest resources in it. And so I'll get off that soapbox at least for a moment.

   In my research, there was an article in the ABA Journal from June 2019, which is a little bit older, but it talked about the mental health of attorneys. And really, I think the key takeaway on this is just that the legal profession has significant mental health challenges. And in the latest research that I've seen, particularly addiction is a struggle for the legal profession and it's something to keep an eye out for, but not just that. Lawyers are 3.6 times as likely to be depressed as people in other jobs, according to a 2016 ABA and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation study, and 28% of licensed employed lawyers suffer with depression 28%. That's more than one out of four. I know I'm a lawyer and not an engineer or physician. But I can see that now. The study also shows that 19% have symptoms of anxiety and 21% are problem drinkers. Okay. So, facts are facts and that is some indication that our profession has some unique risks.

   I think I'd like to think of these problems from different vantage points. I think it helps to kind of look at them, look at these issues from various different points of view. So, let's shift from mental health and mental health nomenclature like addiction. Let's talk about loneliness. So, it's been very interesting to me to see as a healthcare attorney, that loneliness is something that the healthcare system is starting to note as a health risk. And I want to quote a USA Today article from not too long ago. The percent of people classified as lonely has increased from 54% in 2018 to 61% in 2019 according to insurer Cigna. The company released its first research in 2018 on loneliness, has decided to focus on the workplace because Americans spend so much time toiling about 90,000 hours in a lifetime. So you can see there's this connection that even a major health care plan like Cigna is seeing between how we work, our work related habits, loneliness and our overall healthcare outcomes.

   I love what Cigna's chief medical officer had to say about this. In-person connections are what really matter. He said, "Sharing that time to have a meaningful interaction and a meaningful conversation to share our lives with others, is important to help us mitigate and minimize loneliness." Employers also have an incentive to address loneliness. Lonely workers were more likely to miss work due to illness or stress. And more of them felt that at their work wasn't up to par according to the report. Researchers are still struggling to find effective methods to ease loneliness. And this data could spark ideas for interventions. And this is about a loneliness report in NPR from last year. So, it's not just about burnout, it's not just about mental health nomenclature. It can be something as simple as loneliness that we should be paying attention to and trying to better understand if we're going to look at our profession and try to figure out, "Well, how can I reduce my risk of mental health challenges, particularly burnout, what can I do to assess myself?

   I think loneliness is a great place to start. But let's try another word or another viewpoint. Let's talk about compassion. It's something that I've been hearing for many years. The sense that empathy seems to be on the win. That we are somehow losing sense of compassion. And when I look at the signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue, I see a lot of the same words that I see when I look at descriptions of professional burnout. So what are they? Loss of purpose, anxiety, sleep disturbance, hypervigilance, pervasive hopeless. Self-doubt, inability to concentrate, disorientation or forgetfulness, withdrawal or isolation. There's that word again. Apathy, anger, emotional roller coasters, decreased intimacy, feeling overwhelmed, poor self-care, appetite changes, minimization loss of purpose. Does it sound familiar? Yes, it does. It sounds familiar because it sounds like burnout. And I think it is. I actually think it's the same thing.

   And I think it's very important that we take a look at that and understand that what we are dealing with is the same issue, the same problem. So compassion fatigue, loss of empathy, loneliness, loss of purpose, feeling a sense of inadequate support stress. They're all in the same family. I mean, we're kind of talking about the same stuff. Now, we just went through a pandemic and I still think we're going through it according to the virus Omicron according to my reading recently. And during the pandemic, there's been a massive spike in addiction, overuse of alcohol, overuse of opioids. Is it no wonder, it's the stress. And it's the isolation that was involved in all of that. So, again, all of these things really connect. And if you just take a look around, do any of your own research, you'll see that pandemic mental health has been a massive problem.

   And I think we're going to deal with this for a very long time. I think sometimes when we're coping, we kind of put on our survivor pants and we cope. But then it's afterwards. And haven't we seen this with our military veterans? It's not so much when they're in action, but it's after action. That PTSD and the impact, the mental health impact of their service is so obvious and contributes to that horrific suicide rate. This is the problem. So we know those problems. I mean, it's no surprise and no shock. So, what I want to do right now is do a shift and I'm going to start talking about, okay, so we know that there're some issues. What can we think about doing? I found a really excellent article in men's health called Your Guide to Escaping Burnout and Fully Rebooting in 2021.

   I just thought it was so on point. And as it says, the three signs of burnout are exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficiency. This was according to San Francisco based psychologist Jacinta Jiménez, the author of a book, The Burnout Fix. And this article really caught my attention because it had some very practical suggestions. So for example, if you check your inbox from bed, try deep focused breathing instead. I know, I know. I know you have a lot of work to do, but you got to take some breaks. Maybe if you wake up late making time for a morning commute or some version of it, even if you're working from home, maybe if you're putting off big projects, rearrange your routine to see if maybe changing up your scheduling can help you find that efficiency and reconnect to work projects. If you find yourself becoming like a hermit and being reclusive, really focus on intentionally working on connections. This is something that I've been doing lately.

   I've just gone through a significant stressor in that my mom just died. And so this was expected. She was struggling with Alzheimer's disease and the end finally arrived and I found myself getting reclusive, other them with my family and of course, all of our help with mom and also her surviving husband, my dad. But I have really been working on making more connections and it's been working. I feel like if you think about it and you sort of put it on your schedule and you make it a targeted priority because we are as legal professionals, so perfectionistic, type A, we'll make that stuff happen if we make it a priority. Maybe you're doom scrolling on your phone. Have you caught yourself doing this on your computer or iPhone, regardless of your political party or political point of view, you find yourself just sort of staring at your news source and having a sense of constant dread. I've certainly been in that place.

   And think about getting other sources of information and maybe turning off the news every now and then? It's not such a bad idea, just a little bit, and try to charge and reboot. And then finally, if you're staying on slack 24/7, if you're out there and maybe too far out there on social media, focus on creating boundaries. So anyway, I thought this article had some outstanding advice. Now, I'm going to... This talk isn't about me, but just what do I deal with? So I have a little bit of an ADD issue when I was a kid and I was never medicated. And there's an occasional depression that comes up. It's a family genetic trait. And so what I have found that that results in, those things, is that I can have some anxieties related to business and work and even get a little bit addictive, maybe not so much with substances, but I notice that sometimes I'll have an addictive tendency toward either entertainment products, or maybe exercise or certain kinds of activities.

   So what I find myself doing is real focusing on boundaries and also really focusing on cognitive distortions. How am I misapprehending the reality around me? Am I getting it right? With a little bit of ADD, you want to jump to rapid conclusions because your mind works really quickly. Am I getting the right answer? And is my mind coming to conclusions that aren't accurate? Which is why I'm going to quickly be talking about cognitive distortions. I think focusing on those can be super helpful. So before we focus on how the brain works and cognitive distortions and all that stuff, do we have room for improvement? Well, I think so. I found an article called The 10 Worst Mental Health Treatments in History. Well, I found this to be darkly funny, which I don't know, does that say something about me? I don't know. I just thought it was horrific. The biggies to me were lobotomy to disrupt the brain circuits of course. Treating mental illness is a moral issue. I mean, just only bad people have mental health issues. Bleeding, vomiting, and purging, or fixing humors, mystical rituals like exorcisms and physical therapy.

   But that's not the physical therapy you're thinking of. It's ice plus involuntary restrain. These were the top historically bad mental health treatments. What's my point? It wasn't that long ago when these were all being implemented on people and it just shows how far we have to go to understand this issue and to do a better job. So, can we do better? I really think we can do a lot better. So, as we start to think about how we can do better, let's just start with something very basic. How does the brain work? How does the mind even work? Now, obviously that's beyond the subject of a professional burnout talk that's supposed to be less than an hour, but have you heard of modular mind theory. If you saw the Pixar movie that dealt with this so brilliantly called inside out, you saw in that Pixar movie that in the human mind of this, happened to be a young girl, there were different characters and each of them fulfilled a different role in her mind in the movie.

   And it was a fascinating movie. And it was actually quite accurate in terms of modular mind theory, which is that you're kind of a committee. Now, this isn't so much of a stretch. You probably took enough basic biology to know that you have a left brain and a right brain, or you've done enough reading to note this, or you've heard it colloquially. Okay. So you already know that there's two. But maybe there's more like a... And by that I mean that there's different aspects of our personality that are constantly at work to assemble the reality that we intake through our senses and then try to make sense of it and then to make decisions. And these are different systems. They're not just one system. Why do I think modular mind theory is kind of important? Well, I think sometimes we judge ourselves and others thinking that there's just one captain of the ship and that ship is going hard starboard to go grab a donut when they shouldn't. Okay? Or making a poor lifestyle choice of some kind, or maybe we're making bad choices or less than optimal choices.

   And we get hard on ourselves, but it's good for you to understand that it's not just one captain of the ship, there's a whole committee in there and we can actually impact how that committee makes decisions and functions by being more aware of how cognitive distortions work, how does our mind trick us, maybe causing a majority of the committee to vote for I'm all in favor of a dozen donuts by example, or being more mindful and why mindfulness and different ways of being more mindful can help that committee make better decisions as we go through our day. It is possible. So I'm going to talk about cognitive distortions. Let me preface this by saying, what are cognitive distortions? Now, maybe you've never heard those words. So I'm going to attribute these, although I'm sure many other amazing academics have worked in the subject, but Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman were both Israeli psychologists, both tasked at a certain point in time with helping the Israeli army figure out how to basically survive despite being surrounded by superior armies in a hostile environment.

   And so there were efforts being undertaken in the state of Israel to figure out how do we optimize fighter pilots? How do we optimize different military scenarios? And what these two professionals came to study and conclude, is that our minds trick us constantly. And that what we think is rational is actually not at all. And eventually their work resulted in a Nobel Peace Prize in what subject? Economics. Why? Because these two prove that people are irrational with their money, which upended a basic tenant of fundamental economic theory. Economics was always taught with the notion that a human being will be rational with currency. Turns out that wasn't true at all. And in establishing these things Tversky and Kahneman established, and I think injected into the modern lexicon, the concept of cognitive distortions, at least made it more popular and well proven that we trick ourselves. We just do. So, let me just give you a list of typical cognitive distortions and tell me if anything might ring a bell for you.

   All or nothing thinking, sometimes called black and white thinking. If I'm not perfect, I have failed. Either I do it right or not at all. I mean, never heard of that before. Over generalizing. Everything is always rubbish, nothing good ever happens. Seeing a pattern based upon a single event or being overly broad in the conclusions we draw. We've certainly seen this in the pandemic, right? How many times have you heard someone try to prove a point about whatever their pandemic point of view is with a single instance, mental filter, only paying attention to certain types of evidence, noticing our failures for example, but not seeing our successes. Disqualifying the positive, discounting the good things that have happened, or what may have been done for one reason or another. Just saying that doesn't count. Jumping to conclusions. There are two key types of jumping to conclusions, mind reading, which is imagining we know what other are thinking.

   Okay, no one's ever sat in a deposition and done that before, right? Or fortune telling, predicting the future. And God knows lawyers don't ever do that. We don't predict how deals are going to go or what other parties are going to do or what juries are going to do or what a judge might do. Magnification, catastrophizing and minimizing. Blowing things out of proportion, catastrophizing or inappropriately shrinking something to make it seem less important. Well, that happens. Emotional reasoning. This has become very popular. And that's kind of sad. And emotional reasoning is assuming that because we feel a certain way. It must be true. I feel embarrassed. So I must be an idiot. Yeah, your feelings aren't always right. I'm going to be the spoiler alert on that one. Shoulds and musts. Do you ever should on people? I do it all the time. Using critical words like should, must or ought can make us feel guilty or like we have already failed.

   If we apply shoulds to other people, it results often in frustration. Labeling, like calling something stupid. I'm a loser, they're a loser. I'm completely useless. They're such an idiot. So name calling. It's sad to see name calling in our profession, but I have to say I've seen it and I've seen it more than I'd like to say I've seen it. Personalization, blaming yourself or taking responsibility for something that wasn't completely your fault. Classic example is trial. I mean, we sure take the glory when we win a trial and we're devastated when we lose. But there were probably about 100 different factors involved in that trial. And it wasn't all us. So, I want to contrast cognitive distortions, the ways our brain tricks us. By the way I want to inject something. I think bias is a cognitive distortion too. And bias is leaping to an inaccurate conclusion based on insufficient or limited or mentally filtered evidence.

   I think it's a cognitive distortion and a problem too. So, what are 15 things that mindful people do? So I like to think of mindfulness as the antidote to cognitive distortion. They don't always believe in their thoughts and they don't take them all that seriously. They don't try to avoid or deny their emotions. They understand that all things come and go. They do one thing at a time. Can we just put to bed multitasking? No, you're not great at it. I know you think you are, but you're not that great at it when you're doing eight things at once. They turn everyday tasks into mindful moments. Focus. They practice being curious. Okay, they're open. They get outdoors and embrace the beauty nature. Not isolated. They enjoy every bite when they eat. So they're focused. They don't believe their thoughts and they don't take them all that seriously. Okay, they're lightening up a little bit. Sounds like anecdotal.

   They are fully present when listening without trying to control or judge. How often do we find ourselves impatiently listening to someone knowing exactly what we're going to say the minute that person stops talking and they take one breath. And we're probably not listening very well. And our profession benefits from listening, whether it's classroom, cross examination or direct examination, listening to the other side's arguments. We always do better when we listen. Listening to our client, listening to the other side of the story. Listening is a good thing for us. They take many breaks every hour or two when working or studying. Yeah, you don't have to tough it out. That's not a badge of honor, it's super inefficient. They laugh at themselves and really focus on what they're doing. They might challenge their beliefs. And isn't that an amazing thing?

   Could we actually get back to relativistic thinking as we were trained in law school? To understand both sides of an argument and understand that reality may not be black and white, which is a cognitive distortion. And then they nourish their body. So, anyway, I just bring up cognitive distortions and mindfulness because this is one way that we can all check ourselves to see how are we doing? If we find ourselves in a negative point of view, is it possible that we could reframe based on identifying a cognitive distortion that we may be hung up on? Maybe we're filtering, maybe we're catastrophizing, and maybe there's a different way to look at it. And maybe we ought to try that. There's a Venn diagram that I love about profession. And in the middle of it is purpose. And surrounding purpose is passion, mission, profession, and vocation. And surrounding those words outside of them are you love it, the world needs it. You are paid for it and you're great at it.

   I think as attorneys and in legal profession in general, we lose track of our purpose, right? We get caught up in the mundane day to day financial worries, family worries, job worries, feeling a lack of control over our work environment perhaps, or our work tasks. Maybe we are an expert in one little sliver of very lucrative work and we get stuck doing that. And we don't like it. That happens in our profession. And what we do is we forget about what we loved, what the world needs, that we had a passion and a mission. We went to law school called to something. It wasn't just to get a bigger house or have a nice car lease. But that's not hopefully why you decided to go to law school. There's a purpose there. And I really encourage everyone to think about purpose on a daily basis and maybe on an hourly basis, because I believe that's the cure to burnout.

   I don't think it's possible to be truly burned out if you know what your purpose is and you're actively working toward it. You now have this mission and that mission takes you outside of yourself and puts you into a place where what you're doing has importance and you are in control role of that importance. And now all of a sudden, all those symptoms of compassion fatigue, no longer apply, or no longer isolated, no longer distressed. We're working on our mission. So I encourage you to look for that mission. Now, mission can be a lot of different things. It could be fairness. It could be opportunity. It could be diversity. It could be inclusion. It could be regionalism. It could be access. There's a lot of different ways to look at this. And it doesn't just belong to one political party or one philosophy or the other. There's lots of really noble and wonderful missions that are applicable to our profession with creating jobs, creating economic prosperity, ensuring systemic fairness, and addressing systemic bias.

   These are all really great things. And you have the tools to work on those things. And even if you see your area of law is not involving your particular passion, you can go and find that through your community service, through your pro bono, through your other activities. And I highly encourage you to do so, because I think that that's vitally important to addressing compassion fatigue and burnout. So look at this as a time to act. And there's an article that I found on burnout avoidance. It talks about three Rs, recognize, watch for the war signs of burnout. Try to reverse. Undo the damage by seeking support, managing your stress. And resilience, trying to build your resilience to stress by taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally. You really are the product in this profession. It's you. And that means you need enough sleep to function, you need to have a healthy body as much as it's possible.

   You need to emphasize your health and your connectivity to people who love you and you love because those are all the ways that you can be more effective as a human being. Found a really cool article about science backed ways to get better mental health this year. So again, this is a list. Reduce screen time, not cold Turkey, just avoid excess. Join a group, make social connections. Eat instead of dieting to restrict your nutrition, to try to lose weight, think about making a positive change, like eating more broccoli, the so-called crucifers. Move your body. Don't skip exercise. It's a cognitive distortion to think that if unless you run 10 miles you might as well not bother. Okay. Right? Doesn't that sound familiar? It sounds like one of those cognitive distortions. Maybe you only have five minutes.

   Well guess what? I do some yoga and in five minutes I can really hurt. I mean, there's things you can do in five minutes that are going to help your body. You should do it. Seek help if you need it. You can't just snap out at some of this stuff, you actually need help. Isn't it kind of hypocritical that we scoff at people who don't get legal advice when they need it. And yet here we are, and we're not getting professional advice when we need it. So who are we to take such a illogical approach? And try to avoid the strict dieting because it's not going to work. Books. Let me give you a couple suggestions that I think that you might benefit from. When I read Danny Kahneman and when I read about Kahneman and Tversky, I kept on reading books about cognitive distortions and logical fallacies and heuristics, and just kind of got a little frustrated. I mean, isn't there any solutions or are we just doomed to having bad brains?

   And I love that author named Julia Galef, G-A-L-E-F, wrote a book called The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't. And she provides in this book a toolkit on addressing cognitive distortions. Wow! The marketplace really needed this. And so that is why I highly recommend it. If you are looking for proof that cognitive distortions exist and you don't mind reading a lot of pages, you look at Thinking Fast and Slow by Danny Kahneman. Also, You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney, is sort of an exhaustive list of distorted thinking that if you aren't convinced by that, then there's no convincing. I have some other books that I recommend for different reasons, how to have impossible conversations, but Boghossian and Lindsay is a book about persuasion of people who are hostile to your point of view. I highly recommend this in this era of apparent massive disagreement over basic things like reality. I found that that book was really helpful in terms of how to address conversion. Not conversion, sorry, Freudian slip. Conversation with people from a different point of view.

   Thanks for the Feedback by Stone and Helen is a book about how to handle feedback that isn't always positive. And saying thanks for the feedback is kind of like their tagline when you get unsolicited negative advice. And I think it kind of helps. Give and Take by Adam Grant. Adam Grant, I would describe as sort of a Wharton whiz kid who has written a number of books about altruism and having an altruistic intent in business. And what I loved about Give and Take is that he establishes the proposition that being a giver can actually make you a winner from an economic perspective. And that was actually music to my ears. Other books that I would highly recommend, Rethinking Positive Thinking by Oettingen, I thought was pretty brilliant. This was a German psychologist who was really tired and inherently suspicious of the constant drone of just be positive, just be positive.

   And she established that no, that's not really how you are more effective as a human being. You have to establish goals and then take necessary steps and actually take the time to look at your obstacles. And if you're on the business side of law, this should sound a lot like SWOT analysis, because it is. Algorithms to Live By, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffins was I thought a really brilliant book because those guys are software engineers and noticed that there were certain aspects of software engineering that actually seemed to track what humans should do to improve their thinking. What a concept? So if you have more of a mathematical point of view, or if you have any kind of experience with software, or maybe you just love computers, that book might get to you in a way other books won't because it really approaches improving human behavior from a very sort of software mathematical point of view.

   My favorite was how the early versions of GPS maps were failing until they did a quote relaxation, which meant instead of trying to get exactly to where you were trying to go, if they just relaxed the program to get kind of close, the programs all of a sudden worked perfectly. I think that that's a very useful analogy to how we are and what am I addressing? The cognitive distortion of perfectionism, thinking that you have to do it exactly a certain way. And if you don't get exactly that outcome, then it's a total failure. All sorts of cognitive distortions there. I think Factfulness by Hans Rosling, even though it's a little bit dated, is such a wonderfully optimistic book. The book's thesis is that we simply don't comprehend how good things are because we don't see reality correctly. We look at it as a narrative.

   And if we shift to looking at diagrams that can give us a more potentially objective view of how are we doing as a world with hunger? How are we doing with healthcare? How are we doing with infant mortality and survival? There was a lot of room for feeling optimistic. And so for that reason, I highly recommend that book. In my research, I kept running into the same thing over and over for again, which is how effective meditation is. And I would highly recommend meditation, but I would ask you to not think of it as a spiritual exercise, although you certainly are capable of doing that if you wish to. But you can also look at it as a simply hitting the reset button on your computer, except you're a human and not a computer. But you might need to be reset too.

   And meditation is an opportunity to give that modular mind committee some space. And so instead of constantly subjecting it to stress and risk and survival decisions, meditation allows the committee to kind of kick back, have a cup of coffee, maybe even a donut and kind of think and talk. And that's what meditation is good at, is just letting your mind sort of roll around. If you think meditation is about floating three feet above the ground, no, that's not meditation. That's like a science fiction movie. This is about just sort of closing your eyes, breathing calmly and just sitting for five or 10 minutes. And there's all sorts of apps to help meditate. Speaking of apps, I want to kind of hit a couple lists, the top mental health apps for 2020 and 2021. There were a lot.

   So in 2020, I would say the one that I was the most in love with was a app called Moodpath, which is a way to address your cognitive distortions, identify them and reframe. I found that to be super helpful. There was also an app that I really enjoyed that was called Jour and now is called Alan, or maybe it's French Alan, because I found that it's a French company. And it's about journaling and it does also have some cognitive distortion support. In 2021 mental health funding, mental health apps just exploded. And so trust me when I tell you that there are apps for suicide prevention, general mental health, addiction, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, PTSD, mindfulness and meditation. And there's more. So, if you have a particular risk or a particular issue that you struggle with, obviously get professional help if you need it, get into the right groups, if you need it, but there's also apps and you might find them to be really helpful.

   So I want to conclude with some general comments. Number one, Wayne Dyer is quoted saying our intention creates a reality. And I really think that that's true. So if you simply form the intention of handling professional burnout and your mental health and your overall healthcare better, you're probably going to do better. Just like when I decided I needed to connect more, I started to connect more. We will follow our intentions. The committee likes goals. Your modular mind really likes a whiteboard that says connection. So, try that, it can really help. And it also can help to assess when we really need more profound help than we can do for ourselves. And when we do, get it. I know for me my solution path. So I try to stay open to new ideas and new theories. I was just at a yoga class and someone was claiming that there's some healthcare product that grounds you like an electrical current and improves your health. To which I said, well, is there a double blind study that says that the FDA will let them make this claim?

   To which this person I was talking to said, "Yes." I said, "Send me that study." Because you know what? As much as that sounds really implausible to me, maybe it's true. So, I work on staying open to new facts and new information by reading and just being receptive and then weighing. Is that a cognitive distortion by trying to be as mindful as I can? I find creative expression really helps me. So, when I shifted from trial work and real estate and corporate governance to more health care transactional work, I found that giving talks on my area of competency was a creative venture that made me feel good about what I'm doing. I felt like I was helping a lot of people. And unlike the trial, I didn't think anyone was getting hurt or going broke.

   So, it made me happier. I'm a professional musician too, and I'm in a band with a small album deal and little things like that that you can find where you can enjoy creative expression. I know for me, it really helps. Exercise and mindfulness are huge for me. I really make time for it every day. Of course, I'm not a perfectionist, I try I not to be. So maybe I miss a day, maybe I don't get my exercise in every single day or as much as I want. That's okay because just like the algorithm to live by relaxation. If we can just approximate where we're trying to go, we can get there. Having work integrity and purpose is something I think about every day. And whenever I'm feeling exhausted and lacking in direction, I go back to purpose.

   What am I trying to do? And why am I doing it? And I feel better. Community outreach is huge. I find myself at times I'll catch myself not reaching out and doing enough, although some people would probably say that's not an accurate conclusion, but I am actually in the moment rethinking about a new Sunday activity to try to stimulate more community outreach. Doing these talks on burnout is part of my community reach. And focusing finally on my family and personal connections and friendships and just making sure I check on myself every day. Have I connected with a friend? Have I talked to someone other than myself? Have I just been living in my little work bubble or have I pierced the bubble and connected to anyone? It's very important. Two final comments. In the legal profession in every state, the state bars have mental health resources. Now, this strikes me a little bit like driving up to the highway patrol car and saying, "Hey, I think I might have a speeding problem, do you have any tips?" It can be a little counterintuitive for us to go to our bars on mental health issues.

   So I'm going to acknowledge that as a very commonsensical observation. Having said that, it's good for you to know that it's there. So for me, I'm a California licensed attorney, I know that my bar will give me two free therapeutic sessions if I feel like I need it. And they claim that will be private and it won't be part of my record. Okay. So if I were to find myself in a place where I wanted to myself to that, I would, although to be perfectly honest with you, I went through a relationship breakup and as I told you, one of my parents died. So I went and saw a therapist and I had no problem doing that because I asked people to pay me as a professional, why can't I pay her? I mean, who do I think I am? Am I a therapist? No, I'm not a therapist. We're lawyers, but we're not engineers and we're not therapists, we're not physicians. Although some of you might be not very many of you probably. So get the help you need when you need it and don't hold back.

   Final comment is if you have any questions, comments, corrections, if you want to tell me I did a great job, or if you want to tell me how I could really improve this talk, I have no problem with any of that. I can be reached through two different channels or email addresses. My law office email is [email protected] That's [email protected] Yeah, it's too many words and too literal. I also created an online learning platform to help promote my healthcare regulatory compliance solutions as an educational product. I just wanted to drop the legal fee barrier to it and create an educational product that could be more affordable for more people. And that is at www.loftylearning.com. That's www.loftylearning.com. It is a webinar channel that has to do with private medicine and how to create an innovative practice model. That's part of my purpose. And it also has a bunch of avoiding professional burnout content as well. Because something I noticed is that healthcare professionals were very burned out. And the professionals who were looking to do alternative innovative practice models were desperately trying to get out of the traps of their profession.

   Yes, it's not just our profession. So I created that educational platform for that purpose, which means I can also be reached at [email protected] That's [email protected] So with that, I say thank you for your time and attention. I hope you found this talk to give you some anecdotal benefits. Maybe it helped you decide to put more intention, more effort toward your or health. Maybe it caused you to assess that you have some challenges. Maybe you feel like you're doing really well. I think that's great if you are. We can all do better. And maybe it gave you some tools to put in your toolkit or things to maybe explore whether it's meditation or lifestyle changes. Maybe you have some significant challenges. One out of four of you do. And we just do. And if you do, you probably aren't getting treated and maybe you should. So, I would encourage you to take this talk as a stimulus to take the moral judgment away from mental health conditions.

   It's simply one of many different healthcare challenges. There's no character flaw. It's not because you were raised on the wrong side of the tracks or whatever. It's just a health condition. And just like any other health condition, get the treatment you need. So with that, I'm going to say thank you, best of luck. And I'm very glad to have provided this talk to you. And I hope it's of help to you. Thank you.

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