Happiness Project: Happiness of the Heart

Staff Writer

Humans are relational beings and I posit that law students are humans. Therefore it should come at no surprise that we need personal relationships, not only for functional reasons of cooperative existence tied through a Hobbesian social contract, but also for the emotional and psychological support that can only be expressed through valuable interactive associations. Although this value may seem incommensurable, never underestimate the importance of your support system. Similarly, never underappreciate the people or person that constitutes that system, as they do more for your happiness than you know. Studies continually express the positive benefits of having strong personal relationships such as stress reduction, better health, longer lifespan, higher life satisfaction and improved work productivity. Moreover, people who are BLS (before law school) can give you a sense of reality, sense of home and sense of self outside of this fine institution.

This is your first Happiness Challenge of the week: take stock and recognize who the important person in your life is, and realize how undoubtedly you have neglected this relationship at the extent of a midterm or memorandum. German sociologist, Max Weber’s famous definition of social relationship requires that the behaviour of each party, in a meaningful way, take into account and be oriented to the interests or actions of the other party. BLS friends or partners have inevitably scheduled their time around your schedule, made accommodations, and oriented their behaviour to your law laden life. Have you done the same? Have you oriented your behaviour to your other party in a meaningful way?

I hear the rebuttals, as I type: I don’t have time to engage substantially in extracurricular activities such as personal relationships - colloquially recognized as the “I’m too busy” argument. Indulge me in feeding into the stereotypes, but law school students are committed, dedicated and loyal when it comes to school. They are focused, driven and tireless when it comes to studying. These are all fantastic characteristics of a stellar scholar. Unfortunately, these traits do not translate into a fantastic personal relationship.

If you haven’t heard (and if you are in a relationship, you have), dating a law student is not easy. In fact, it may seem almost impossible with our overwrought schedules and horse-with-blinders-on visions of academic achievement. On the other proverbial hand, it is easy to get sucked into the matrix of making summaries and in doing so, simultaneously ignore or neglect the so-called “most important people of our lives.” Inevitably, relationships become strained, as they require time and you alas, have none. But what is a law student to do? Must you be a lone wolf of the library, alone and learned, filled with an aching void for human love and affection? The answer is no. Your happiness is important and maintaining a personal relationship through this taxing time is equally so. Most fortuitously, maintaining a healthy relationship is actually much easier than most classes.

As your Happiness Guru, I bestow upon you ways to find happiness of the heart through maintaining and fortifying personal relationships.

1) Date Night: Allocate one night every 7-10 days to spend a block of uninterrupted time with your significant other. N.B. This time cannot be used to “study together.”
In your search for daily and eternal happiness, I may ask of you, Osgoode student, to do terribly difficult things, but you of course heed my advice in the hopes of better days and a more enjoyable existence. Making an express effort to carve out a significant portion of time for your significant other is the most decisive way to regain happiness of heart. I can appreciate the difficulty of this challenge, but in turn you will appreciate its benefit. Put it in your calendar. Prioritizing people over paper is paramount.

2) Constant Communication: Be in touch, technologically speaking.
If Date Night seems like an unachievable goal because your schedule is set in stone by the original Masons themselves, then you may benefit from micromanaging your relationship. Through the various social mediums and technologies of today, there is absolutely no reason to not stay in touch. Sending an email, text, message, tweet, status update, poke, ping or carrier pigeon takes seconds. You can afford seconds. Studies show that continual contact and the sharing of details is the principal way of evoking feelings of intimacy.

3) OO (Outside Osgoode): Step away from your studies and step into the rest of the real world.
In the moments of face-to-face (or face-to-phone) contact, refrain from speaking only of Osgoode-related matters. The intricacies of interpretive tools of techniques employed to understand the question of the division of powers is not as interesting as you think. Likewise, a joke about Lord Denning is not that funny to anyone OO. Make a conscious effort to engage in subject matters that cannot be found in the 1867 Act.

4) Be Nice: They deserve a little extra nice treatment, don’t you think?
Late nights studying leads to a lack of sleep. Lack of sleep makes people cranky. This is a simple causal connection. Nonetheless, be nice to your significant other. It is not his/her fault that you have 150 pages of readings for tomorrow or are scheduled for back-to-back seminars. Positive, affirmative behaviour and speech will effectively allow others to perceive you as more confident and competent. In addition, it’s just good manners to say please and thank you.

5) Hug for six seconds (H46).
If you can commit to nothing else, just hug. Hugging for six seconds induces the release of endorphins and tells your brain that you are bonding. Remember, H46. But don’t count aloud - it totally ruins the sentiment.