Governance & Membership
May 2019 President's Message
Living a 'Four Square' Life
By Charles W. Chesnut
When I was growing up in Miami, there was a businessman who enjoyed giving away books. One day he invited me to his office. When I arrived, he gave me a book by a man named William Danforth, the founder of Ralston Purina. The name of the book I remember was I Dare You.
That company’s checkerboard logo we know today actually relates to the principles of this book that espoused his personal philosophy, the “four square” life. He believed that each person has not one but four lives to live: physical, mental, social and spiritual. “The ingredients for life are a body, a brain, a heart and a soul,” Danforth would say. “All four must grow in balance with each other.”
I think we can all look back at our lives and see where certain events have had a lasting impact. That book had a lasting impact on me.
We live in a time where there is much discussion about “wellness,” especially in the legal profession. It’s a topic of conversation because we, as attorneys, are a profession where chronic stress exists which often results in high rates of depression and substance abuse.
That certainly impacts our ability to practice law and affects our competence.
It’s easy to let the demand of the practice of law crowd out a healthy balance of living; and yet our lives are infinitely better when we allow ourselves time for fresh air and sunlight, physical exercise, intellectual stimulation, social time with friends and attention to the spiritual side of our lives.
It’s a goal of many to be successful in our lives. The definition of success is going to be different for each person. For me, one of my goals was to have a successful, busy law practice. Unfortunately, at times I was so busy and so “successful” that my life got off course. As a result, I became extremely stressed and very unhappy.
It required some major work within me to get back to a “four square” life. I think my story is legion.
Attorney wellness is really just individual wellness. It is an active process of becoming aware and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. It is a dynamic process that embraces change and growth.
The Oklahoma Bar Association is working on programming that promotes wellness in the practice of law. It would be nice to shift our culture toward one that makes well-being in all its aspects a priority among practitioners.
We’d love to have your input and your participation. Contact me if you’d like to be a part of this.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal -- OBJ 90 pg. 4 (May 2019)