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The Science of Happiness: The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley is offering a free 8-week online course designed to “explore the roots of a happy and meaningful life.” According to the Center’s website, the course will provide:

• Short videos featuring the co-instructors and guest lectures from top experts on the science of happiness;
• Articles and other readings that make the science accessible and understandable to non-academics;
• Weekly “happiness practices”—real-world exercises that students can try on their own, all based on research linking these practices to greater happiness;
• Tests, quizzes, polls, and a weekly “emotion check-in” that help students gauge their happiness and track their progress over time; and
• Discussion boards where students can share ideas with one another and submit questions to their instructor.

The course starts September 9, 2014 – you can register here.

100 Happy Days: Participants are challenged to share a picture of something them makes them happy every day, for 100 days. It invites people to notice what makes them happy, realize how lucky they really are, and appreciate the moment they’re in. At the end of the challenge, participants receive a little book of their 100 happy moments, to serve as a reminder of the good times.

Take on the 100 Happy Days challenge here.

Thomas McLellan was a research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania before serving as the Senior Scientist for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Unfortunately, McLellan’s expertise on the subject extends beyond his professional endeavors and into his home, losing his youngest son to an overdose and having his oldest son in treatment for addiction.

Recognizing the need for better direction on treatment, McLellan, through the Treatment Research Institute, developed the Consumer Guide to Adolescent Treatment. The guide enables parents to be informed when deciding where to send children struggling with addiction. After years of reviewing programs and literature – and even receiving training on comparative reviews by Consumer Reports – the team developed a list of 10 features of “quality programs.” The results are all available via the website where visitors can search by feature or zip code to access comparative information of existing programs and see where they rank in each of the 10 features.

The pilot program will launch this spring in Philadelphia only, but plans are being made to expand to Pennsylvania and then to the entire nation.

To access the NBC News article, click here.

A new app called the Addiction-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS) is designed to help recovering alcoholics in the time they may need it most – after treatment. The 24/7 app connects the person in recovery to others in recovery and counselors, helps the user find support meetings, sends daily motivational thoughts, and provides links to resources like podcasts on relevant topics such as “Dealing with Urges.” The person in recovery is able to personalize the app so that it knows potential places of weakness, such as a bar or liquor store. With that information the GPS feature will “ping” the user if they get too close in order to intervene before a relapse occurs, with messages such as “Is this where you want to be?” Another feature is its life preserver icon, which acts as a panic button and sends a message to the user’s pre-determined support system requesting that someone reach out. While the user waits, the app provides supportive resources as well as sends reminders of the user’s personal recovery goals. The University of Wisconsin–Madison, the developer of A-CHESS, conducted a randomized trial on the app and the findings were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry; overall the results show that the app contributed to abstinence.

For The Daily Beast article on the A-CHESS app, click here.
For the CNET article, click here.

Responding to the alarmingly high suicide and depression rates of lawyers and law students, the Dave Nee Foundation is assembling a team of legal scholars, bar leaders and mental health experts to reframe bar admission standards so that they encourage mental health treatment by law students. While there have been significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues, the character and fitness questions regarding the student’s mental health history are still from the 1970’s. According to the Foundation, these questions may have a chilling effect on those needing treatment for fear of being denied admission. The goal is to work with bar associations to create and promote new guidelines for admission that treat depression like an illness rather than a weakness, so that law students will seek treatment early on.

For more information, click here.

In the report, “What Makes Lawyers Happy? Transcending the Anecdotes with Data from 6200 Lawyers,” authors Lawrence S. Krieger and Kennon M. Sheldon report on their recently conducted study to determine just that…what actually does make lawyers happy?

A great deal of attention has been focused on the disproportionate number of unhappy lawyers compared to other professions. Recognizing the need for empirical data on who is happy in the legal profession and why, Krieger and Sheldon sought to find correlations between various factors and lawyer well-being. Interestingly, the results indicate that priorities are often misplaced; many factors stressed to students and lawyers as well as stressed over by the same, such as income and prestige, are only modest predictors of happiness compared to many of the more marginalized factors that erode during law school such as personal autonomy.

The results provided in this report are intended to influence legal educators and employers and provide practical guidance to those seeking to improve the well-being of law students and lawyers.

To access the report, click here.

The Texas Bar has recently introduced to its blog the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program “Stories of Recovery” series. The series features stories, written by attorneys, about their experiences overcoming mental health and substance abuse issues. In the series’ first story, the author describes the recovery process after nearly taking his own life due to years of depression, and how it is possible to resurface even if you think you’re “drowning.”

Click here to access the Texas Bar Blog

Addicted…to Money

In his recent op-ed in the New York Times, “For the Love of Money,” former hedge-fund trader Sam Polk offers an inside perspective on an often overlooked (and glorified) addiction – the pursuit of wealth. In it he writes about getting hooked on money during his time on Wall Street, and how he ultimately experienced what he describes as withdrawal when he decided to walk away from it all.

For the full article click here.

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