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Mindfulness And Meditation: Gen X Or Gen Y Molly-Coddling?

Stress? Anxiety? Burnout? Depleted resilience? Boo-hoo. What will they complain about next?

Most older lawyers won't say it out loud, but a lot of us are thinking just that. We felt the stress of practicing law--dealt with anxiety--but we learned to compartmentalize those things. We got burned out, burning the midnight oil, but we toughed it out. Now it's the next generation's turn in the barrel!

I know and understand that way of thinking, but with the perspective of my recent retirement from the practice of law, my view of the world has changed. And what I may have once thought of as molly-coddling, I now see as critical to the sustainability of the legal profession. Yes, I did say, "sustainability".

Sustainability is about the future. And what I'm concerned about, is the future of the legal world. More particularly, the women and men who are the today--and the tomorrow--of our profession. Sure, lawyers must remain on the cutting-edge of not only the law and related regulations, but also, the technology that animates, organizes and interprets those things. That comes at a price--an ever-increasing price--both personally and professionally.

Much of the pace and pressure that currently exists in the legal profession is the result of technology, and the rapidity of response that it engenders--both on the part of the "asker" and the "answerer". The most simplistic example (which even I--who was born an entire generation ago, can understand) is the decades-old advent of email, which enables partners or clients to email younger lawyers at a moment's notice--even deep into the night (in real time, or by delayed delivery).

Technology is the spouse of the Gen X and the Gen Y generations--we can't live with  it, and we can't live without it. And it does take a toll. Sometimes obvious, and sometimes not--but always, it does take a toll. Which is the most obvious way in which the stresses and strains of the legal world have changed.

So, for those of us who may view mindfulness and meditation--the entire well-being conversation--as a tedious form of molly-coddling, think again. The pace of personal and professional life has sped up, appreciably, and we have an obligation to equip our co-workers--dare I say, ourselves-- with new tools to deal with complications that accompany that increased pace.

In the words of the old comedian, Henny Youngman's infamous doctor: "If it hurts, don't do it!". These days, we have little choice but to be nimble, and fast--especially in the professional realm. And if we have little choice but to "do it" then let's all get smart, and also do something for ourselves.

Slow down, in order to be fast!


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