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Lucas: Maintaining your Thanksgiving state of mind

Kelly Lucas
November 23, 2011
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

EidtPerspLucas-sigIt is that time of year – the time when we are reminded to be thankful for all that is good in our lives. If you are sitting at your desk at work, in a comfortable chair at home, or even in a waiting room while reading this, chances are you have good reasons to be thankful.

But it occurs to me this time every year that it is a bit odd that we need a holiday to remind us to count our blessings. Don’t get me wrong, I love the big turkey dinner as much as the next gal and don’t get me started on the thrill of Black Friday shopping. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could recognize the benefit of extending that “attitude of gratitude,” as Quality of Life columnist Jonna Kane MacDougall calls it, throughout the year? And if you’re a person who says to yourself, “But what’s in that for me?” as Jonna explains in her column below, research has shown that a positive attitude can actually boost your immune system. Now, one less cold this winter would be something to be thankful for, wouldn’t it?

Perception plays a big role in our ability to be grateful. The way we approach life impacts how we perceive the world around us. If you are a person who makes New Year resolutions, consider getting Dr. Kent M. Keith’s book: “Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments.” Written for high school students as a leadership guide in the late 1960s, the book has now been published in many languages and was reportedly posted by Mother Teresa on a wall in a children’s home in Calcutta.

Read Keith’s paradoxical commandments. If you aren’t ready to make that big of a commitment, you don’t even have to read the entire book (which would literally take the average person an hour or two). Just read the commandments. One I try to take to heart is No. 4: “The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.” I think that reminds us to not only do things for others, but to also live in the moment.

It is amazing how much happier people seem to feel when they are spending their time focused on doing good for others. They are those who’ve moved from the realm of “planning” to “doing.” There is an inspirational sign often seen in stores and coffee shops that reads “The smallest deed always exceeds the grandest of intentions.” I don’t know who to credit that thought to, but I’ll bet that person was thankful for the life he or she was living, and was probably “paying it forward.”

Let me leave you with Paradoxical Commandment No. 7: “People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.” On page 7, Indiana Lawyer reporter Jenny Montgomery conveys the story of a college student in Indiana who came to this country as a child and is an undocumented immigrant, but was working hard and on the path to building a good life here. An immigration-related law that took effect in Indiana this year has derailed her efforts.

Our system isn’t perfect. Clearly, we must have and enforce laws. But in the spirit of the pilgrims – this country’s first immigrants – perhaps we can work together to find a better approach that will serve everyone, top dogs and underdogs alike.

Happy Thanksgiving!•

Opinions: Readers may offer opinions concerning Indiana Lawyer stories and other legal issues. Readers may respond immediately by viewing the “submissions” section on our website: www.theindianalawyer.com. We reserve the right to edit letters for space requirements and to reproduce letters on the IL website and online databases. Direct letters to editor Kelly Lucas at klucas@ibj.com or 41 E. Washington St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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