President of the State Bar of Arizona writing
about happiness? Does he think he’s a
therapist? Or does he need one? What does
that have to do with the practice of law in
The reason is because, in addition to
being grateful for the honor of leading the
Bar, I’m grateful for the Bar itself
and for my fellow lawyers who are a
part of it. We are a lucky lot. And this
month we will once again celebrate
with our families the American tradition of gratefulness: Thanksgiving.
One thing we all know about the
experience of gratefulness is that we
sometimes experience it by looking
elsewhere. Whether it is seeing the
struggles or losses of others or
simply comparing and contrasting
our circumstances, we are gently
reminded to be appreciative—to be
This summer I was lucky enough
to travel through India, a place
that’s hot, chaotic, noisy, crowded
and overwhelmingly poor. It is
also a colorfully happy place where
people are remarkably kind to one
another, where even the desperately
poor wear the most unlikely smiles,
The State Bar of Arizona and the practice
of law in Arizona are not perfect, and indeed,
last year there was an attempt to dissolve the
Bar in our Legislature. Because we’re bound
to face that challenge again, I’d invite you
to reflect on how that would be a terrible
mistake. As someone who is licensed by four
bars and actively practices in those states, I
am constantly struck by the remarkable skill
and professionalism of the lawyers in our
state. The State Bar of Arizona is a key contributor to that end.
So when it comes to the State Bar of
Arizona or even the personal struggles we
face throughout the year, let’s not once
again have to relearn the lesson that “you
don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.”
Instead, let’s work to make your Bar and the
practice of law in Arizona even better.
I’m a student of happiness. Notice I didn’t say Zen
I’m still learning every single day, and many days I have to relearn the
same lessons over again. Nevertheless, I’m going to teach you one of the
most important lessons I’ve learned about happiness. Consider it the “yoga
of happiness,” something to exercise your body and soul daily.
You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
There is nothing truer in the human condition. It’s true of people in
your life, freedom, health, justice, love, money, power, pets, reputation,
safety, security, success, and even “your stuff.” It’s every little thing, from
air in your tires to running water in your home. It all represents the nutrients of happiness and, until it’s missing, you never wanted it so badly.
You see, happiness is not a destination, and the dogged “
pursuit of happiness” is a sure sign you’re ( 1) not happy and ( 2)
never going to be happy while in such hot pursuit. Happiness is
also not a product or an end.
We all seem to know this intuitively, but we still seem to think
as though we’re on a road trip to a place called Happyville.
Or chiseling away, like Michelangelo, at a piece of marble to
uncover The David of Happiness that will naturally emerge. But
Happyville is not on the GPS, and it is certainly not an enduring, well-chiseled product of our efforts.
Happiness is gratefulness.
There it is. That’s it. That’s the important lesson I’ve promised. It’s simple, really. If we were all to begin each day by
recounting “how lucky” we are, we’d be a lot happier.
Why should this matter? Or, more important, why is the AZ AT
Thanks Made Visible
by Geoff Trachtenberg
An Indian auto-rickshaw driver—and countless other people—leads us to consider gratitude.