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There’s only so much a general counsel can do to cheer up the troops

Studies referred to in Scientific Am., April 2007 at 36, show that “about 50 percent of each person’s happiness is determined from birth.” We each have a genetic set point of contentment that is to that degree largely set for life (See my post of March 8, 2006 for more on happiness set points.).

For this reason, efforts to boost morale in law departments are likely to meet with mixed results and be short-lived (See my post of Oct. 30, 2005 on low-cost morale boosters.). Members of the legal team will regress to their innate levels of happiness.

The article also discusses the other factors that influence our mood levels. “The smallest [explanatory] slice is circumstances, which explains only about 10 percent of people’s differences in happiness.” The remaining 40 percent is the dark matter of joy: we don’t know what accounts for it, although at least one researcher attributes it to “intentional activity,” mental and behavioral strategies to counteract the downward pull of adaptation, whereby we all quickly adapt to good fortune and take for granted it luster.

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