Why is it so hard to be a happy lawyer?
It’s no secret that being a lawyer is challenging. There are incredibly long nights, many deliverables, and for high achievers, it can become overwhelming. In fact, many lawyers struggle with their unhappiness in silence.
Joining me for this conversation is Dannie De Novo.
Dannie is a corporate attorney, an elite happiness coach, and an international speaker and bestselling author. After having battled depression and anxiety for most of her early life, Dannie set out on a course to learn what true happiness was for her and for the sake of her baby girl. Now, Dannie regularly appears on TV news and talk shows as an expert on creating happiness and purpose, combating loneliness and depression, and managing anxiety.
Dannie gives listeners actionable tips on:
- [3:30] Navigating mental health struggles from a young age and going in and out of institutions
- [14:10] Why driven, high achievers tend to be unhappier
- [17:30] Changes you can make in your life to find more fulfillment
- [20:55] Tips for lawyers to get out of that mentally tough place
- [32:10] Dannie’s book recommendation
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Connect with Dannie here:
Connect with me
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[00:00:27] Dannie: Hey, I’m dating Denovo. It wasn’t that long ago that I was the expert in unhappiness. I was living the life that I thought everyone was supposed to be living. I had a great job as an attorney. I had the house. I was married and I just had my baby girl. But what I didn’t realize is that I was just kind of going through the motions of life and I wasn’t really living to live my life.
I was, I was functioning and that’s about all I was doing. And then one day I was making dinner and I was stirring a pot on the stove and my baby girl, she was about a year old, was sitting on. Laura. And she picked up her Playboy and spoon and she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and she started mimicking me and it was the first time she had ever done anything like that.
And I was like, oh my goodness. You’re like a little human now. Just like mommy. And then I almost fainted on top of my baby. I thought I was gonna throw up because I realized. That she was copying me and she was learning how to live her life by what I was doing instead of by what I was saying or what I was recommending.
And so I sat down on the floor with her and I promised her that I was gonna learn everything there was to know about being happy. Uh, I didn’t think I could be happy. I didn’t think I was wired that way, but I was not gonna let her go through the same things that I had gone through in life. And so that’s what I did.
I set out on a course to learn everything there. To know about happiness. And the funny thing was, is when I started learning from people and implementing some of these things, my life very quickly started to change as well. And so I shifted away from kind of more of a traditional lawyer life, if you will, into a life that fit me and my daughter for the sake of my daughter’s happiness and my own.
And here we are now.
[00:02:01] Karin: That’s such a great intro. I love that story because it really gets to the heart of first of all, why this is gonna be a great conversation where you’re coming from the fact that you’re a lawyer and so you can really speak to the audience, but also it is really just this epidemic within the industry.
And I talk to lawyers all day and you’re a lawyer. You talk to lawyers all day, uh, and you can tell instantly. When people are not happy. I mean, within the first three seconds, you can tell just by all your interactions, every part of working with them, interacting, if it’s gonna be, if, if they’re coming from a place of struggle and, um, you know, dis unhappiness, if that’s, that’s not the word I’m looking for, just.
Uh, struggle with the, the world in general.
[00:02:56] Dannie: Just happiness. Yeah. I think you should make that a new word.
[00:02:59] Karin: thanks. Yeah, I think we should. I dunno where that came from um, so it really impacts not just your work, your life, your kids, every part of, of what’s going on. So. So the, the topic and the question for today is why is it so hard to be a happy lawyer?
I think this is great because we’ve had recent episodes where we talked about this happiness formula. We talked about trying to be healthier as a lawyer, but it ne it didn’t really get to this, the heart of it, which is what’s going on. And why is it so hard to be a happy lawyer? So let’s start there, like tell me a little bit more.
Your story and, and why you think what, what was at the heart of why you were unhappy and you were kind of standing in that moment during the pot and feeling, you know, all those feelings.
[00:03:52] Dannie: Well, my story goes back a little ways. So I actually went through a really bad depression that started in my teens.
And, you know, my parents kind of blew it off just saying, you know, it’s teenage hormones, you’re, you know, things are changing and you know, you’ll get over it. Well, I didn’t get over. It just got worse. And I honestly thought that I was sick because I was a high achiever, like most lawyers, right? Like I was doing well in school.
And I competed in horseback riding and some, I had some other. Passionate things that I was going through at the time. all of a sudden, I didn’t wanna do anything anymore. And I didn’t really care about school and that was not like me. So I thought I was sick cuz I was tired all the time and just didn’t feel like myself.
So of course I go to the doctors, they run all the tests, right. Everything comes back normal and you start going to all these specialists and sooner or later someone says, Hey, why don’t you sit down and talk to somebody. Okay, fine. Cause. Just wanna get better. That’s right. You know, I’m 16 years old, I’m struggling.
I just wanna get better. So I sit down across the table from this woman in this office and I tell her what’s going on and she just kind of folds her arms and, and she looks at me and she goes, honey, you’re depressed. And, um, I was like, Ugh,
[00:05:02] Karin: well just play it out there. Okay. I don’t
[00:05:04] Dannie: I’m 16. I don’t even know what that means.
Um, but I don’t think that I’m depressed. I said, you know, I go to a good school. I get good grades. I have friends, I have a horse, you know, I’ve never seen poverty. I’ve never seen violence. I don’t, you know, even at that age I was aware that people had it a lot harder than I did. Right. Sure. And I don’t have any reason to be depressed.
And she looked at me and she said, honey, you’re depressed. and I said, okay, well, you’re the expert, so what do we do about it? And so she picked up the phone and she called the MD. And the next thing you know, I started down this road of all these different medications. Right. Which, yeah. And in my opinion, just spiraled me out of control.
So I graduate high school, I go off to college and now I’m drinking on top of taking this medication. Right. Really not getting the therapeutic help that I needed because, uh, you know, just like there’s bad lawyers out there. There’s also a lot of really. Therapist, unfortunately. Right? Sure. So, no, one’s really helping me deal with this.
I’m getting a lot of information. Like it’s okay to be depressed. Okay. Well it’s, it’s not okay. Yeah. It’s okay to have those feelings and it’s okay to be processing through them, but it’s not okay to live in this perpetual state of constantly being depressed. Right. Yes. And so I’m, I’m, I’m drinking still make it through school, make Dean’s list, all this stuff.
I go home for the summer and my home life. Wasn’t the happiest. And I just kind of, I just crashed. I go back first, sophomore year, I’m there a few weeks and I just can’t even hold it together. I can’t shower. I can’t function. I can’t get to class. Um, So I had these very lofty goals. I was actually going to be a doctor.
I had these very lofty academic goals crashing down in front of me. And the next thing I know I had to call my father and say, you have to come pick me up because I can’t, I can’t do this anymore. Uh, I was suicidal beyond belief. So as soon as I got home, I checked myself into the mental institution. And so now here I am in a.
Full lockdown, mental institution, right? Surrounded by these women, um, who have gone through divorce and who have lost children. And again, here I am 18, 19 years old. I don’t know why I’m like this. I just know I don’t wanna live anymore. And so now I’m sitting in this room feeling guilty because these women are experiencing this loss and this trauma and this grief.
And I’m just like, oh, maybe I’m just an entitled kid. I don’t even know anymore. Right. I go through, you have to stay for two weeks or at least you did the time when, when. Voluntarily, um, commit yourself, which I did. And then I got out and I held it together through the holidays for the sake of my family.
But, uh, I was in a really bad spot after that. And so I ended up checking myself back in and saying to them, okay, look, here it is. If I leave here, I’m not gonna make it right. Yeah. I know. I’m not gonna make it. My behavior is at a point where I I’m going to succeed. Uh, and killing myself and I really don’t wanna do that to my family.
And, um, I also don’t wanna keep coming back here because this sucks. Yeah, right? Yeah. This is a terrible existence. And um, and they’re like, well, we’ve done everything we can for you. And I was like, well, you gotta come up with something. And they said, well, the only thing we have left to do is electro shock therapy.
And I said, okay, where do I sign? Wow. You know, there’s no one there advocating for me. My parents really just didn’t know what to do with it. They were just kind of like, you know, they had kind of like, I don’t know. And at this
[00:08:15] Karin: point you’re an adult,
[00:08:16] Dannie: so I’m choices, right? Yes. I’m a majority age I can sign.
And so I sign and next. Thing. I know the next morning someone rolls in a wheelchair and they take me into the secret part of the mental institution. Right. Everyone’s maxed up and, um, and they strap down my body and my legs and my arms. And they wheel me through these double doors into something that looks like Frankenstein’s laboratory.
And I am not exaggerating. By any stretch on that one. Right. And, um, I’m, you know, I’m, I’m a kid and I start crying and I, some kids, someone please hold my hand. I think I changed my mind. I don’t wanna do this. And oh no, my head got pushed back. And then I saw this man coming towards me with these two giant probes in his hand.
And then I was out. Uh, and when I woke up. At first, I thought that I had gotten my wish. I thought that I was dead. But then when I realized where I had been, um, I was just kind of trying to deal with the fact that I felt like I got hit in the head with a sledge hammer and my life was never gonna be the same from then on.
Right. So now I’m going through these treatments every other day for weeks and weeks. And my body’s shutting down. and, uh, and then one night I’m having dinner with my little brother and he’s talking about this time that we wrote our ponies together and all this great stuff that happened. And I, I can’t recall what he’s talking about and he’s got such details and he’s so excited, and this was like an amazing event in our childhood.
And I. His face, like he is just starting to drop. He’s so sad because he can tell that I, I can’t recall. Don’t remember it at all. Oh my gosh. And, and then I just realized I had no recollection of a lot of things. And so I started faking it. I was like, yeah, yeah. That, yeah, we did this and that. And he’s like, oh yeah, good.
You remember? Right. So I pushed back from the table. I run into my bedroom and I pull out my photo album from under my bed. And I start looking through. Childhood, uh, photos. And most of my childhood memories were gone. I just couldn’t recall anything. Oh my gosh. Um, and so that scared me to the point of going in and saying to my treatment team.
Okay. It worked, even though it hadn’t worked right. I was like, I’m better. I’m happy. Let’s like stop doing this cuz I can’t take it anymore. And so they were like, okay, well show us, you know, get back into school, do this, do that. Which I did. And I never, again, not only never dealt with the whole, you know, why am I depressed?
At the beginning from the beginning. Yeah. But now I’m dealing with all this trauma of everything that I just went through. Right. But I just suppressed it all because I was like, look, you know, somebody had said to me once, maybe the reason that you’re not happy is because you are always asking these questions, these big questions, like, why does life have to be this way?
Why does it have to go this way? Why can’t it be different? Why. Things be outside the box, right? Yeah. And so they said maybe if you just start acting like everyone else you’d be happier. And so I was like, you know what, I’m gonna try that. I’m just gonna act like everyone else. Right. Yeah. And, um, and so, uh, I had actually been involved in public safety.
I was a paramedic and a volunteer firefighter and, um, was really interested in that. So I thought, well, you know, legislation might be a really cool way to get involved in that. So maybe I’ll try law. Which is how I found myself there. Right. And so I’m like, okay, I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna go to law school.
I’m gonna be a law student. I’m gonna take the bar exam. I’m gonna be a lawyer. And, um, and that’s what I was doing. I was just being what I thought you were supposed to be kinda faking the role, faking everything, faking everything, going to the gym, going to the grocery store. Right. I, I had. Real sense of who I was on any, you know, deep level.
I was just existing from day to day. Yeah. The alarm would go off and I would dread the fact that I had to get out of bed and start my day. Like I know a lot of people do. The only thing that I ever got out of it was being a mother. Thank God. It, I mean, she saved my life and. So many ways, right? Yeah. But until I saw that moment, when it clicked for me that she, it was monkey see monkey do, and it didn’t matter what I was gonna tell her.
Right. Yeah. If I didn’t know how to do it and show her how to do it, she was never gonna be able to do it for herself. Yeah. Which is, you know, where I see. Right now a post COVID. Right. All of these parents don’t know how to manage their own depression and anxiety. And so all these kids are now anxious and depressed.
Um, but I knew that I had to be the leader I had to, I had to be the role model in that. Right. So that is where I had to go now. Okay. So that leads me to why, why are so many people so unhappy right’s yeah. Is because, well, especially lawyers, we follow into these. Yeah. We follow into these patterns, right?
Um, we care what other people think so much. Yeah. And especially so with lawyers, right? Yeah. We’re so concerned about how we look to our peers, to other people in the profession. Right. There’s that whole, you know, there’s, uh, that affluence that comes with it, right? Yeah. I have to drive a certain car. I have to have a certain
[00:13:03] Karin: house.
There’s all these images we’ve seen in movies and right. You know, in every kind of show, uh, I saw a really great, uh, LinkedIn post from, it was an earlier guest, actually, Laura Harnett this morning was talking about how she was watching a show. and there was this female lawyer in the show and she wasn’t even a main character.
She was just dating someone, you know, who was a main character. Yeah. And she came into the show and she was wearing all black pants suits. And she just had this like unmanaged anger. And she was just, you know, the, the word that no woman wants to be called, and this was just this kind of type cast character sure.
In this show. And then she was asking on LinkedIn, Can you think of any great examples of female lawyers in the media that you can even think of? And I sat there for a while trying to think of any women, lawyer roles that I could think of that were positive. Not in that black pants suit, not angry, not that typical, um, just kind of angry woman role.
And I feel like that’s the role that especially a lot of women think they have to play as a lawyer. And so that just gets embedded into your head. And so you assume you have to be kind of. Negative and angry and you’re fighting and you’re, you know, you’re always fighting people. Sure. Yeah. Right. And so you can understand, I, I can understand why that, where that comes from, how, you know, how that’s, how that starts.
[00:14:40] Dannie: Yeah, well, I mean, let’s take it back even a little bit further. Right? There’s a certain, you know, kind of person that’s attracted to the profession to begin with, right? Yeah. So you’re, you’re probably high achieving. You’re probably pretty driven, ambitious in some regard. Um, you know, hopefully you wanna make a difference.
Right. And I think that. , uh, you want, you wanna have impact in some way, right? Whether that’s, yeah. You know, for society or for some other reason, it doesn’t really matter. You wanna have some sort of impact and influence over the world and, um, You’re, you’re probably not great at managing your stress to begin with.
I think that, you know, these are not skills that are taught to us. And so if you don’t have a parent or someone in your life who does teach you how to do that, right, it’s just. Accumulates over time. Uh, again, you’ve gone from school to college, to law school, and then it’s, you know, bam, you’re supposed to be this professional in this, um, in this industry, if you will, that kind of expects you to, to just jump in and be at a very high level.
When, and again, no one really taught you how to do that either. Right, right. And, uh, and it, it’s also at that time in your life when you’re supposed to be making all these decisions about who am I gonna marry? When am I gonna have kids and all this other stuff. Right. So there’s a lot kind of coming down on you, but the problem is, is you probably never paused enough to really ask yourself, you know, uh, who am I?
Yeah. What do I want? Right. What do I really want my life to look like? Because there aren’t too many people. I think that if you sat them down in fourth or fifth grade and. , you know, do you, um, wanna get up at four 30 every morning and, and work out and then, you know, drop your kids off at school and go into the office and bill, you know, 1500 hours and, uh, and come home and, you know, maybe get a decent dinner and maybe see your kid for 15 minutes.
And probably just arguing about homework with them. So you’ve gotta get back on a call or do more work for tomorrow and then you’re gonna crash because you’re exhausted and then tomorrow’s gonna look the same way. Right. Right. I mean, I don’t think that’s not anyone’s
[00:16:49] Karin: dream. nobody at fourth grade was like,
[00:16:51] Dannie: yeah, sign me up for that.
Right. And so right. When you, when you don’t even take the time to, um, kind of figure out what you want your life to look like and who you really are. If, you know, the two are gonna jive, right. It’s gonna be really hard to be happy. I think it’s hard to be happy being a lawyer because of how the profession has come to look.
Yeah. And because we’ve been too afraid to stand up and say that it needs to change. Yeah. Um, I think C did a little bit of that for us, but I can already see things sliding back to where they were before. Yeah, absolutely. Um, and if you’re not brave enough to, to hold that line, then you know, it’s just gonna repeat itself.
[00:17:34] Karin: I think that’s so true. And especially the part about how we’re sliding back, um, in so many ways where, where I, I, I feel like there was this moment in the beginning of COVID when we didn’t really know what was gonna look like, what the world was gonna, what. You know, be, and the whole world had shut down and there was these like beautiful moments where like I’m in Southern California and there was these space shots where the air was actually clean here for a few days.
And, um, and it was like, This could be, we could change the world. And now it’s all back to mm-hmm to all of that, both kind of in theory, in terms of like the environment, but also the rest of the world, like we’re all sliding back to like dirtier air all the way around. So. I’m hoping like this is what you talk about, and this is your story, but I feel like that’s not the end of the story.
And so you’ve kind of found some pathways it’s it seemed like there was a moment where you made a choice that you wanted to do to do things differently and were kind of at this point in the story where it’s like, okay, this is, this is kind of where the world is now, especially the legal industry. So what have you figured out, like, what have you decided for yourself that.
Done differently. And that you have decided to kind of make a point of doing differently for your daughter.
[00:18:57] Dannie: A lot of things. Right. And, and I changed a lot. And you have to understand is this was not an easy thing to do. Uh, this was not something that was accepted by the people in my life. Everyone thought I was crazy that I had gone off the deep end.
Um, but it was just that important to me to figure out, you know, again, and it was my daughter that got me involved in it. But when you get down this path a little bit, you realize you’ve gotta do it for yourself and. Yeah. So, you know, I, I ended up getting divorced. There was no one in my family that was supportive of it.
It was a very isolating time. And so the first thing I will caution you too, is that if you really wanna search for that happiness, that you may find, there’s a lot of resistance in your life. People don’t want you to change. And, uh, And so, you know, I was going along this path, I started studying, I started studying where I thought I, I should, right.
Religion and philosophy, cuz I didn’t know any better. And then it eventually led me onto these other gurus. Some of whom took me under their wing and kind of taught me the ropes. And then you just build upon it from there. And I started geeking out on the neuroscience side of it. The nutrition side of it and everything.
And it just, it blossomed into those really cool thing. And I took all these little nuggets and put them together into a formula that worked for me. Right. So it took a lot of time to do that as well. Right. Yeah, of
[00:20:16] Karin: course. It sounds like a great combination because. You’re getting into the combination of the spiritual side of it, but also I feel like the health side of it, like your actual physical health is, is a part of it.
And we were talking about this earlier that, uh, you know, lawyers have a huge rate of addiction, problems and suicide and all of that stuff. Um, Getting into any kind of addiction, whether it’s alcoholism or whatever it is, that’s, that’s clearly really bad for your health and that’s just gonna spiral you down, you know, even farther.
[00:20:52] Dannie: Yeah. So it’s gonna mask a lot of things too. That’s what that’s, what it’s designed to do is to mask the fact that you’re so out of alignment with your own heart, that you can’t bear to be in a sober state, right? Yeah. I mean, I’ve, trust me, I’ve been there. I know. Sure. Same, same with the suicide too. Right.
And, um, It’s, uh, it’s, it’s difficult because you kind of have to go through this wall of, of it being really uncomfortable for a while. And most people don’t wanna put themselves through it. But what you don’t realize is that on the other side of that is all of this great stuff. And I didn’t realize I had kind of gotten through it until.
Finally one day, my brother came to me and he said, uh, Hey, what are you doing? Like, what are you reading? Like, what are you looking at? And I said, oh, you know, this, this and this. And I said, why? And he said, well, he said, you know, you, you seem happy. He said, and I, and I’ve never seen you like that before.
Yeah. And I was wondering if it worked for you, do you think it might work for me? Yeah. And I said, well, Hey, let’s give it a. And then I started to see his life change. And so I was like, huh, I bet I could put this stuff together in a way that made sense for a lot of people and show them how to go through it.
Not hitting all of the road hazards that I hit along the way. Right, right. But, but you’re still gonna have to go through some of that because it’s. It is a it’s part of the process. It’s a discovery process. Sure. Uh, it’s about growth. Um, probably a lot of growth in a very short period of time, which is sometimes kind of painful.
Yeah. But what you realize is you can get through the pain without having to suffer. Yeah. And, um, And that’s so what most people are doing every day is suffering through the day.
[00:22:30] Karin: Yeah. So I know you have some happiness hacks. I wrote that down. Um, and so give us a couple tips of where would you, where would you recommend, uh, typical lawyer that is on that similar path where they’re just in that place that you were just describing where they’re kind of suffering and they just feel like there’s no, there’s no path
[00:22:55] Dannie: forward.
Yeah. So that’s, that’s a really tough place to be. Right. Look, all I can tell you. Keep going and do one thing at a time. So when I was really bad, when I was, when I was really just not wanting to wake up every day, not wanting to live right. And I knew that I had to bring myself out of it, cuz no one else was helping me do it.
Right. I, I said, okay, this is what I’m gonna do. The first thing I’m gonna do is I’m gonna make a promise to myself that I’m gonna go outside every day and I’m gonna stay outside for at least, you know, 15 to 30 minutes. And it didn’t matter what the weather was like. I don’t live in Southern California, so it’s not.
[00:23:30] Karin: Yeah. It’s not always good. Yeah.
[00:23:33] Dannie: yeah. So it didn’t matter what the weather was like. Um, how cold, how rainy, how disgusting. That’s what I was gonna do every single day. And then I got a calendar and I hung it on the wall and I started crossing out every day, each day that I did it and I got to the end of the month and I was like, huh, it was kind of a reminder, like, if I can do this, yeah, I bet I could do a little bit more.
And it gave. That much confidence to be like, okay, this looks like it’s getting better. Right? Yeah. I mean, look at it from the lawyer analytical side. Yeah. This, the evidence shows that things are a little bit better the end of the month than they were at the beginning of the month. Let’s keep going. Let’s try something else.
Um, cuz for me to sit here and say, oh, you know, try smiling more like that’s gosh, when you’re, when you’re that deep in, it’s not gonna do anything for you. And I understand that. Yeah. Yeah. It is in a way, right? It is. Um, but it. It’s, it’s not enough to kind of bring you out of it because smiling in and of itself is gonna instill that confidence that you’re gonna need in yourself to keep going.
Right? Yeah. I mean, you have to understand, like, I, I get it. Like I went from a place where I was so broken down mentally that I could not make eye contact with myself and my own bathroom mirror. Oh, right now I go on TV regularly. That first TV tier appearance for me was really difficult. Right. Yeah. But it’s little by little, right?
Yeah. You can’t expect this thing to just happen for you overnight. You deserve your happiness, but you’re not entitled to it. It’s like the gym. You’ve gotta go every day. If you wanna be fit, if you want those muscles, if you wanna keep those muscles. So just like your happiness, it has to be something that you work at every single day.
Yeah. There’s not a day that goes by that. I let it slide because I know where I can end up back to. Right. If I, if I forget about it, if I let it go, if I don’t make it a priority. And so. First thing, I take care of every single day, because if I don’t have that, then I’m no good to anybody else. Not to my daughter, not to a client, not to, you know, even myself.
Yeah. Yeah. So, um, so
[00:25:32] Karin: sorry. Have you ever tried those like habit tracking apps? I’m, I’m kind of obsessed with these there’s one that I use called streak and I’ll, um, link to it in the show notes, but, um, you can create, it has all these different ideas for habits and you can create whatever. Things you wanna track and, um, it’s kind of what you’re describing.
Yeah. With your calendar, but on your phone. yeah, so, yeah, and, and it’s on my watch too, so it’ll pop up. So like, I wanna drink five glasses of water a day and it’ll pop up and say, okay, you you’ve done two and, and you have to check ’em off. Yeah. Obviously, and tell it, cause it doesn’t know I’m drinking water, but right.
Um, and then it’ll remind me, but like, as we’re getting towards the evening or whatever, like, Hey, you still need to drink two more glasses of water. Yeah. Or, um, it also syncs with like my health apps and whatever, so it can tell how much I’m standing and all of that stuff. But, um, I also was. On this, uh, in the early part of the, the pandemic, I was on a mission to try to read a lot more.
And so I started with, okay, I’m gonna just read like 15 minutes a day. Yeah. Kind of similar to what you were describing with going outside. And there’s this woman that I follow, who’s kind of a hero of mine and she reads like a hundred books a year. Yeah. So I’m like, I wanna see what that would feel like, you know?
Yeah. And. So I am now reading a hundred books a year because I started with 15 minutes a day. Yeah. Uh, and so I, I am such a proponent of these habit tracking ex apps, cuz I know once you get in the habit of it and you get a streak going, it will, it just burns in your brain. And you, you now feel like you were describing it, feel confident.
It, it happens and you, you know, you can.
[00:27:12] Dannie: Well, yeah, from the neuroscience side of it, right. That’s what you need. You need the repetition, right? That’s what creates the new neural pathways. That’s the plasticity of the brain, right? Exactly. That’s repetition. It’s how you learned everything in your life.
Right. You’re now in a place where if you’re not a very happy person, is you’ve learned how to live an unhappy life. And every day your brain goes back to what is familiar to it because it’s easy. It doesn’t take very much energy. And, um, it, it understands the surroundings, right? When you start to change that you are literally gonna put your body in fight or flight mode, and that is uncomfortable.
So not only are you dealing with the whole mental side of it, but you’re actually having a biochemical reaction to trying to do something different or be happy. Right. That’s where, it’s why it’s so uncomfortable. Yeah. Now, if the. If the habit tracking works for you. Great. For some people, I think it might create more anxiety and that’s not something that you wanna do.
Right. But you know, you’ve, you’ve gotta hold yourself accountable. There’s gotta be some measure of discipline. Yeah. Involved in all of this. And again, that’s where part of the discomfort comes from because you’re sort of fighting all of this stuff at the same time. Um, you know,
[00:28:18] Karin: have you heard of other ways for people to kind of push through that?
Because I feel like that hurdle yeah. Is. Is it like, that’s the, you know, one side of the hurdle is this place where you are now and the other side of the hurdle is where you wanna be. And so how do you get through that hurdle? If you are someone like you described that the habit traffic tracking, that’s just not gonna work for you.
Yeah. Um, so what other tips or tricks or ideas do you have for people who are really struggling with how to get through that?
[00:28:49] Dannie: Well, meditation is a great way to start with it. Uh, there’s a lot of breathing techniques that you can utilize. Uh, I’ve studied holotropic breathing, which, um, was actually formed by, um, a psychiatrist who back in the fifties was doing experimentation with, uh, LSD.
And when the government said, you have to shut that down. and he saw his patients getting great relief from it. He had to come up with a new way to get the same results. And so he developed this actual breathing pattern that kind of puts you almost in the same state that a psychedelic would. Oh, Yeah. So there’s, there’s those techniques, the meditation is a, you know, people freak out when I bring that up because okay.
Now another thing that’s hard to do and I’ve gotta devote time to every day. Well, yeah, at the beginning you do, but it doesn’t have to be this, you know, I’m completely dumping everything out of my brain and it’s quiet and there’s no distraction whatsoever. If you wanna start with an easy meditation, light a candle, and just stare at the flame for three minutes every day, because it’s enough to.
Distract you from the noise in your head and refocus the energy onto something else onto one thing, right? Yeah. And when you, when you train your brain to do that, then what you can start to do is go internally because here’s, the deal is you’re gonna have to find that one voice, right. Especially as a lawyer, we’ve got all this junk going on all day long, all these Wickes in your head.
Most of them aren’t even. Right. How do you know what’s the one voice that’s yours? Well, you’ve gotta get rid of the distraction. You’ve gotta get rid of everything. That’s superfluous around you and you’ve gotta come back and hear, I believe it come. That voice comes from your heart, but you’re never gonna hear it if you’re not quiet and if you’re not distracted.
And then once you kind of learn to listen to that voice and you get more confident. Telling you you’ll realize that that voice knows everything that you need to know about you being happy. So then it becomes an exercise in acting in conformity with that, which again, takes a lot of courage to do because is gonna mean you acting in ways you typically don’t, you acting in ways that that make you scared you acting in ways that, um, people are gonna judge you.
Right. Yeah. And, but, and that’s, again, you’ve gotta get over that discomfort hump as well. Yeah. But once you start doing that and again, seeing, you know, kind of like my brother did, like, you know, all these little changes that you’ve made over all this time is really added up into something, right? Yeah.
When you start to see that for your yourself, there’s no going back because. You know how you felt over here and how you feel here. And every time you implement one of those little things or add something to it, or take something away that doesn’t make you happy, you realize how much further you can go into this and how amazing your life can really look, you finally give yourself the ability to imagine a life that, you know, look something like you could never have dreamed.
It was like, I, you know, never dreamed my life would look like this. When I was, you. Stirring that pot on the stove. I just thought this was life and this is how it’s supposed to be. And this is how it’s going to be. Yeah. But now I practice law in a very different way. I have a very different lifestyle. I, you know, I get to do all of the things that I love to do every single day and spend time with my daughter.
And you know, a lot of lawyers will come to me and say, well, that’s not realistic. Or maybe that works for you, but not for me. Well, trust me, if it worked for me, considering where I was, it could work for you, but you’ve gotta put the time and effort into.
[00:32:15] Karin: Oh, my gosh, I, that was such a good, I, I loved that part about finding your voice and, uh, I feel like that is, that is everything right there.
That is, uh, I, I feel like everyone needs to kind of rewind and listen to those like two minutes right there where you were just getting to the heart of it and. Finding that quietness, where you can hear your voice, which is the voice of, of your happiness and all of your answers about, you know, all these things that you’re seeking.
And I know this is kind of a, a departure from the topics that we’re usually talking about with business and strategy, but this comes to the, the bottom line of everything. When it comes to your law firm. When it comes to your life in general, but obviously we’re, you’re usually talking about your law firm, but you can’t run a successful law firm if you’re miserable and you can’t run a successful life and all of, you know, the other pieces of, of your life that go on, if you’re miserable as well.
So, you know, we need to find a path of happiness and how to figure out how to do that in order for all of the pieces to work together. Yeah. And you know, it’s, it’s, it’s a problem. It’s a problem for so many lawyers.
[00:33:30] Dannie: It’s a problem cuz they think they don’t have the time or they don’t know how to do it.
And so it scares them. But I’ll tell you what, as far as affecting your bottom line, I have never been this successful and I put in less effort into things. I have more amazing opportunities coming out of the blue because I continue to do this kind of work. Um, well nobody wants to
[00:33:49] Karin: work with an angry person, everybody, you know, when you are a happy, successful person, it all just compounds because you know, people.
People don’t wanna work with someone who. Miserable. I mean, they obviously no wanna have a great experience with you and if you’re not, if you’re not happy in general, you’re not gonna have great interactions with your clients. It’s just, it’s not gonna be great. No, it may be transactional, but it’s never gonna be, you know, repeated repetitive and you know, the clients are not gonna come back and, and send you referrals and all of that good
[00:34:19] Dannie: stuff.
Yeah. I mean, you just, you don’t realize how much it closes you off. Yeah. To all the great things that are out there and how, you know, uh, numb you become to so much going on around you, because you’re just sort of focused on this, you know, I’m like this mindset of whatever it is that keeps you entrenched in this way of being instead of branching out and trying something
[00:34:42] Karin: a little bit.
Yes. Awesome. Okay. So it’s time to talk about your book review. Uh, I know that you have a great one to, I I’m curious to see which direction you go, because there’s so many different angles. There’s the neuroscience, there’s the spirituality. So, uh, what is the book that you have to recommend for the audience today?
[00:34:58] Dannie: There’s so many good books. Um, but I’ll, I’ll keep it simple because I am all about. If it’s, if it’s difficult, you’re not gonna do it. If it’s simple, you’re gonna go out and try it. Right. So I love the book. Courage is calling by Ryan holiday, um, and his tagline under that is fortune favors. The brave it is.
[00:35:19] Karin: perfect for what we
[00:35:19] Dannie: were just talking about. Yeah. Right. So cuz, cuz I really believe that your happiness is all about being brave. It’s all about having the courage. Step outside of the, what you’re doing right now and trying on new things and being okay with failing. Right, right. Which is not something lawyers are real comfortable with either.
And, uh, it’s a great read because it’s easy in that it’s broken down in a small chapter, so you can do a little snippet every single day. Not so easy in that. It’s really gonna put your face in the fact that you’re, you’re kind of, you know, you’re kind of tiptoeing through life. You’re really not engaging with it.
You’re really not putting yourself out there as much as you think you are. You’re really not going after it, the way that you wanna lie to yourself about doing it. Right. So it’s kind of an eye opener kind of tough to get through at times. Yeah. Like great. And gives you a lot of, I like the
[00:36:08] Karin: subtitle almost better than the title, because that’s the why, you know?
Yeah. We were talking. I feel like there’s so much good value in figuring out, you know, why it’s so hard to be a lawyer, all of the things we’re talking about, but at the end of the day, the, the, the point we’re trying to get to and the why that we should even care about all these things is the subtitle of this book, which is fortune favors, the brave.
So all of these things, like we were saying a minute ago, they, they relate to your bottom line. It relates to. Not just your success and your level of happiness, but how successful your law firm is gonna be overall.
[00:36:47] Dannie: Yeah. Now I don’t know if you know, Ryan holiday very well, but he comes from the stoic mindset, which is kind of like this whole, you know, let’s focus on death as the end and not in a yeah.
In a depressing way, but just as a reminder that it’s coming. Right. Yeah. And I really like that because I’ve always been, um, Someone who’s been really sort of focused on the clock, right? Yeah. Um, now I lost my father. He was, he was young when he passed away. And so I think that had a lot to do with it too, but you know, I am not somebody who can sit here and live with regret very well.
Yes. And so my constant thing is if I, if, if this is the end, right, if, if I know that this is probably my last day and I look back. Right. Am I gonna be happy with what I’ve done? Am I gonna be happy with where I’ve left it? Am I gonna be happy with myself? Am I gonna be happy with the chances and the risks that I took?
Or am I gonna be kind of like, you know what, you really, you left so much on the table. It’s kind of disgusting. You know what I mean? I don’t like that feeling. And I remind myself of that every single day when I get. That this could be it because you don’t know when it’s coming. You really don’t. Yeah. Um, and so I like that side of it too, because it, it allows me to be a little braver and say, okay, well, you know what, maybe I should take a chance today.
Yeah. Or maybe today’s the day to do this. Right.
[00:38:05] Karin: Oh, it’s such a good point. There was, this is the, the last reference I’ll add in, but I don’t know if you ever watched the show, the good place and towards the end of the show, they, um, Are in this point where they kind of have eternal life and they realize, okay, that this is not the way they wanna live because right.
Um, they don’t have any. They don’t have any structure around their goals. There’s no timeline. There’s no, you know, there’s, there’s nothing pressing them to make any kinds of decisions. And so, because they’re, they, they can just do this and the they’ll live forever. Um, and so they all decide to then become mortal again.
Yeah. Because it adds all this meaning to every part of your day. Um, every decision you make, because it’s it, you don’t get this moment again. And you, you know, you only have so many days and it’s all finite. And when it is finite, you have so much more definition to, and meaning behind all of those decisions.
And so I think it’s just something we all need to remind ourselves. Like we’re not here forever. we’re. And that’s good for the way that
[00:39:16] Dannie: we live. well, you know, I think I’ll leave you with this too, is I think a lot of lawyers forget that, you know, between the depositions and the billing and the emails and the calls and the running around living, you know, from moment to moment in this, I have to get this done.
I have to get this and I have to get this done is your life is happening. Yeah, this is, this is your. And you’re and you’re missing it. Yeah, you’re missing it because you’re so focused on this other stuff and getting to the next thing and achieving the next thing or getting the next thing off your to-do list that you’re forgetting.
you’re walking down the street. Yeah. That the sun is shining that you have a delicious cup of coffee in front of you, that you get to engage with another human being. Um, whose time is very valuable, just as yours is to you, right. That you get to do all of these things every single day. You totally forget that and take it for granted.
And then again, you’re gonna come to this point. Like, well, something is gonna be taken away from you. Yeah. You know, you’re gonna get sick or, or an opportunity’s gonna be stripped away from your life for whatever reason or that final day is going to come. And so be. Be present now and everything that you are doing, find the little joys because that, that is where life is lived in those little joyful moments to moments that happen throughout your day.
[00:40:32] Karin: Ugh. I was gonna ask you for one big takeaway, but I feel like that’s it. I feel like you just nailed it already. And I, if I asked you for the one big takeaway that like it. It wouldn’t be quite as good as that. So I’m gonna leave that as the one big takeaway. Uh, I feel like that that’s everything find the joy in those little moments and recognize that it, this is it.
This is what your life is made out of. It’s not those, you know, grand, um, you know, sometimes those big moments are, are a big deal and you look back at ’em, but it’s not what really makes up your life. So, uh, finding that happiness and finding a way to, to not be so miserable in those little moments is.
[00:41:09] Dannie: Right. I mean, those milestones are great, but you know, if they don’t come about or they don’t really come about the way that you had anticipated, there’s all sorts of disappointment and attachment related to that. But the present moment is always perfect because you just accept it for what it is. Yes.
And, and when you can live your life, that way you will be happy. I promise you.
[00:41:27] Karin: Ugh, Danny Denovo. Thank you so much for being here. This was such a great conversation. We will link to your website, your courses, uh, all of the things that you’re working on, and there’s so many resources that I know you, you have to offer to that.
Um, Obviously, we’ll also link to this book, cuz that sounds amazing too. The courage is calling. Um, but I know that you have resources where there’s, there’s so many directions. People can take this and uh, get, reach out and contact you if they have any questions about. All of the things that you’ve talked
[00:41:58] Dannie: about, but yeah, I love to have conversations and I’ve got lots of free stuff available to just take a look at and see if, if nothing else gets you started on the right track.
Right? Yeah. There’s a lot of people out there that are teaching this kind of stuff. So find the person that resonates with you and utilize the information to your benefit. Yeah.
[00:42:16] Karin: I mean, going back to what you were talking about with the, you know, there’s great therapists and not so great and same with lawyers and everything, you really have to find the one that connects with you, especially when you’re talking about happiness and therapy and all of that stuff.
Because if, if you have don’t have the right connection, it’s already a dead end. No, it’s not gonna work.
[00:42:34] Dannie: You listen, if you keep going, I promise you’ll find that one person that will say something and all of a sudden it’ll all click and you’ll be like, yeah. Oh my goodness. I finally get it the way they said it.
The way they put it into context. I get it now. And then, so then, you know, you’re on the right track. So keep
[00:42:49] Karin: going, keep going. Ah, that’s so good. Thank you so much for this conversation and for being here. That was, that was really a, that was amazing.
[00:42:56] Dannie: thanks. Thank you. It was so great to be here.