Are Lawyers Resistant to Gratitude?

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on November 29, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Did lawyers struggle with being thankful this past Thanksgiving holiday? Some of them likely did, according to lecturer and psychology professor Robert Emmons. Emmons speaks to people from all walks of life and characterizes an individual's orientation as either negative or built on gratitude.

Interestingly, Emmons was asked whether he ever spoke to a group of lawyers. His response was simple and straightforward: he had one time and the only class of people he found less grateful that lawyers were teenagers. What makes lawyers resistant to gratitude? One postulation is that lawyers are people that emphasize self control and self reliance -- two characteristic that conflict with notions of gratitude.

Lawyers inability to express gratitude is also a symptom of the profession. Lawyers are problem solvers and enjoy being in a position of independence, rather than dependence. The inability to switch modes means that lawyers often struggle with being thankful. Issues with lawyer gratitude seem to be magnified by the troubling legal job market. In the end, Emmons characterizes gratitude as a choice.

The benefits of gratitude extend far beyond a simple "thank you." Grateful people also make for happier and more successful people as well. The positive disposition also allows for better sleep, longer lives, and more satisfying relationships. Translation: taking the glass half full approach can help with both personal and professional success and satisfaction.

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