Are You Happy? March 31 Event Focuses on Lawyer, Law Student Happiness

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W. Edward Craighead
Corey L.M. Keyes

By April L. Bogle

Can lawyers be happy? Find out by attending a presentation by world-class scholars March 31, 4:30-6 p.m., in Emory Law’s Tull Auditorium. Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) and Emory Law, “Prevail in the Pursuit of Happiness” is exclusively for Emory Law students and alumni and is followed by a reception in Hunter Atrium. The program is free, but registration is required. Free parking is available in the Lowergate South parking deck.

Pre-eminent Emory Professors W. Edward Craighead, a psychologist who has dedicated his professional life to the understanding, treatment, and prevention of mood disorders, and Corey L.M. Keyes, a sociologist whose work is changing the definition of mental health in global public policymaking, will help participants understand their risk for unhappiness and personal level of happiness, and offer guidance on how to change cognitive styles and to flourish despite hardships presented in life.  The event is the first of several planned public forums of the CSLR’s Pursuit of Happiness project.

“Professors Craighead and Keyes are world-renowned experts on the complex issues of mood disorders and mental flourishing, and as CSLR senior fellows they are enlightening the work of our Pursuit of Happiness project,” said CSLR Director John Witte, Jr., Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Alonzo L. McDonald Family Foundation Distinguished Professor. “We are delighted they are willing to share their insights and recent findings with our alumni and students as we all ponder our individual pursuits of happiness in these difficult economic times.”

Adds Gregory L. Riggs (79L), associate dean of Student Services and Community Engagement, “Law school and the practice of law are very demanding and challenging undertakings and always have been. These sustained pressures can take the joy out of things and significantly reduce life satisfaction. Emory Law and the CSLR want to have a conversation about flourishing, well-being, and having a gratifying and energizing law school experience and legal career.  This program begins that conversation.”

Students and alumni are encouraged to complete an anonymous online survey (take survey here) which will be sent via e-mail notice prior to the event. Part of the first survey, developed by Keyes, associate professor of sociology, is a 14-point questionnaire designed to assess a person’s level of flourishing versus languishing. Keyes has used the survey widely in the United States and Europe, and his findings are helping redefine the term “mental health” and reshape public policy surrounding mental health care.

Craighead's portion of the survey will use informs people of their risk for developing anxiety or depression in the face of external academic and social stressors. For 30 years, Craighead, J. Rex Fuqua Chair in Child Psychiatry and director of Emory’s Child and Adolescent Mood Program, has researched cognitive behavioral models of major depression and bipolar disorders, most currently focusing on predictors of response and relapse among depressed patients being treated for the first time.

Keyes and Craighead are producing major new writings as part of the Pursuit of Happiness project, but survey results from this event will not be used in their work.

Philip L. Reynolds, Aquinas Professor of Historical Theology at the Candler School of Theology who is directing the “Pursuit” project, says recent developments in positive psychology made the timing right for such a project.  “We entered the debate by reviewing what various Hebrew, Greco-Roman, Christian, and Enlightenment sources had to say about the subject and how those words of wisdom can be applied today,” he said.

Registration information is forthcoming. For more information contact April L. Bogle, abogle(at), 404-712-8713.


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