Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. As the year winds down, we’re encouraged to spend time with our loved ones without the commercial pressure other holidays bring. It’s an opportunity to take a deep breath and focus on some of life’s great joys: food, family, fellowship, and football.

In my family, like many others, we have a tradition when we’re together for a Thanksgiving meal: We go around the table, and each person expresses one or two things they’re thankful for. It’s a brief but significant opportunity to pause and reflect on what matters most in our lives.

As lawyers, we have many reasons to be thankful. It’s easy to lose sight of that in the midst of the daily grind.

We practice a great profession. Society depends on us to maintain its basic order. We speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. We have the power and resolve to make a difference in our clients’ lives. We pursue justice. And we have the opportunity to earn a very good living in the process.

We have the freedom to practice in a setting that’s right for us. Our law licenses allow us to create our own firms and to control our own destinies. We can turn away clients who don’t respect our boundaries or whose values don’t align with ours. 

But we don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to express thankfulness and gratitude. And we shouldn’t.

Think about the people who helped you get where you are today. Sure, your hard work and dedication before, during, and since law school made a difference, but no one succeeds alone. Somewhere along the way, someone did something that created an opportunity or opened a door for you. Take a moment to thank the people who encouraged you or went out of their way for you. I bet you’ll spark a little gratitude in return.

Some people treat expressing gratitude as its own discipline. Search up the phrase “gratitude journal,” and you’ll see what I mean. But there’s substance behind the practice of writing down what you’re grateful for. Studies have shown the positive impact regularly expressing gratitude can have on us. Expressing gratitude gives us perspective. It increases health, happiness, and life satisfaction. It helps us celebrate the good times and makes us more resilient when the going gets tough. It helps us cultivate an abundance mindset.

What are you grateful for? How might you express that gratitude this Thanksgiving and beyond?

A version of this post originally appeared in the November issue of Austin Lawyer.

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