Man's quest for peace likely dates back to ancient times. In the middle of the Roman Catholic Mass, there is a prayer that asks to be "graciously grant[ed] peace in our days…[that we may be ] safe from all distress.'" I do not know how long this prayer has been included, but, I suspect that, for centuries, some variation of these thoughts has been incorporated in the church service.
I am certain that the practice of seeking peace is not an exclusively Catholic phenomenon. The inclusion of such prayers speaks to the universality and timelessness of the quest for "peace." Peace is not just a modern goal.
The dictionary defines "peace" as "freedom from war…tranquility…mental calm… and harmony." Peace in its purest sense is, thus both the absence of conflict and the presence of serenity. Conflict can certainly present as an external force bearing down toward an unfavorable outcome. Lawyers well know this kind of conflict, for conflict resolution is a large part of our daily professional lives. But conflict can be internal for lawyers as well. So many in the profession are "Type A" personalities; overachievers and perfectionists, that often our worst enemy is the demon within our own mind.
Regardless of the source of our conflict, left unchecked, it literally can kill us. The Louisiana Supreme Court acknowledged the importance of lawyers learning to effectively manage the stresses and anxieties of practice when it recently recognized "stress relief" as a topic eligible for mandatory continuing legal education credit.
The New Orleans Bar Association has established the Wellness & Stress Management Committee to assist its members in reducing the stressors that destroy practices and lives. This is the second year for this committee and we are still very much a "work in progress."
You do NOT have to be a serene, stress free lawyer to join our committee. (No one who has ever met me would call me "serene".) All you need is an interest in learning how better you can be "safe from all distress." We are planning our programs for the bar year and invite you to join us.
We hope to hear from you.
By: Carmelite M. Bertaut, Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C.
Chair of the Wellness & Stress Management Committee