On New Year’s Day, I am energized. I also have feelings of anticipation and transcendence. I enjoy the same sensation on my birthday, which is only a week later. In recent years, these dates come after an extended break from work, as Matt and I usually shut down the office before Christmas, only to return a day or two after January 1st. As you might expect, helping others pick up the pieces of a marriage in ruins can be taxing on the attorney’s mind, body and spirit. Sometimes, just like you, we simply need to rest. But if I am being honest, after three or four days off work, when my body is restored and I have had an opportunity to reconnect with my family, I start getting new ideas which get me excited about going back to work, especially if I have had a change of scenery along with the slower pace of life between Christmas and the first of the year.
Unlike many attorneys, I love my job. It is an honor to walk with people who are about to make their lives better, whether they realize it or not. I heard the term temporal landmark for the first time a few weeks ago. Temporal landmarks are special days which mark beginnings, like the first day of the month, a birthday, an anniversary, date of sobriety, first day of a school semester or any other personal milestone. New Year’s Day is obviously one too. If we act with intention, every time we get to wake up and start a new day could be deemed a temporal landmark. The word temporal indicates “time-based” and landmark means “breakthrough.”
The more breakthroughs the better.
A temporal landmark produces what some researchers call “the fresh start effect.” This is why businesses like gyms and diet services have their best months in January. Our office is flooded by intake forms from new, potential divorce clients in the month of January too, for the very same reason. People are hopeful during temporal landmarks that their lives can be better. Like exercise and healthier eating, sometimes we need the sacred space between the past and future created by a temporal landmark to motivate us to change our relational dynamic in a positive way. To be clear, Robertson and Easterling is not a life-is-short, get-a-divorce-type of family law firm. In fact, our professionals are just as likely to discourage a breakup as we are to help facilitate it, if there is something to salvage. A temporal landmark should be a time for hope, and a recommitment to a relationship is just as courageous as the declaration for divorce –maybe even more so in many situations.
Did you see the documentary Stutz on Netflix this holiday season? I have been obsessed with it. I watched it three times and the day I wrote this article, I was almost finished with the ten-year-old book, The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, writing in the margins and underlining phrases as if I was studying for a college exam. I also bought the second book, Coming Alive, which I may have also finished by the time this article hits your inbox.
Phil Stutz, age seventy-five, is one of the world’s most prominent psychiatrists. He has worked with world-class creatives and business leaders for 40 years. The first thing he says when he sits with a new client is, “Entertain me.” I relate. The film explores Stutz’s life and walks the viewer through his signature visualization exercises. The client and movie director, Jonah Hill, helps Stuz, a Parkinson’s sufferer, bring these exercises to life in a funny, vulnerable and ultimately therapeutic display. My favorite tool explored by the movie is “The Grateful Flow” and the use of it is my personal New Year’s resolution.
I challenge you to make it a part of your life too. All our minds are filled with worry, self-loathing, and basic tendencies for negative thinking. These thoughts create a metaphysical black cloud above our heads, limiting our potential and the way we show up for our friends and family. The Grateful Flow exercise can be used whenever we are being attacked by negative thoughts or life circumstances. Stutz and Hill demonstrate it beautifully in the film. These are the steps:
- Slowly start naming things for which you are grateful, particularly items you may normally take for granted.
- After you have named items for about 30 seconds, stop and focus on the physical feeling of gratitude in your body. Feel it coming from your heart. This is the Grateful Flow.
- As the energy radiates from your heart, you will feel your chest soften and open, and experience the presence of God (the Source or whatever you call your Higher Power). You will be energized and feel a radiant love, helping you break through negative life circumstances –the black cloud.
I have been practicing the Grateful Flow for a few weeks. I am finding there is also great power in simply expressing gratitude audibly to the people in your life. Gratitude connects you to The Divine and His infinite source of energy and love. Also, people will return love and gratitude to you when you include them in this exercise. What are you grateful for? If it is a person, I challenge you to tell them why you are grateful –it will connect you to them on a deeper level.
Don’t wait. Do it today.
On this temporal landmark, my resolution is to use the Grateful Flow and to express gratitude verbally to the people in my life. To that end, thank you for reading this article and for allowing me to show up in your inbox from time to time. I know you have a lot of things competing for your attention. Many of you have even told me, “I don’t know how I got on your email list, because I am not planning on getting a divorce, but I love what you write.”
I am grateful you allow me to speak to you through this modality. My team and I are also thankful you tell others about the work we do to help people create new relational beginnings in their lives.
Thank you and Happy New Year!
Craig Robertson is the founder of Robertson + Easterling. For over 20 years, he has practiced exclusively high net worth divorce and complicated family law in Mississippi. You will want him in your corner because he believes every case is his most important, and he knows the things you care about deeply are at stake –family, safety, and security. He is strategic, collaborative, creative and grateful.