Rewiring for Optimism

Posted January 14th, 2021 by Urban Legal Recruitment

Over the past several months, despite the unrelenting pandemic, sluggish economy, and the general slowdown that typically occurs this time of year, Urban Legal Recruitment has experienced a definite uptick in activity. 

While we’re incredibly grateful, it got us thinking about the ‘why’. Is the pandemic spurring activity in certain law practice areas? Is there a realization that COVID19 could be with us longer than expected so the world is adapting and adopting a more optimistic approach? 

Rewiring for Optimism


Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
~ Winston Churchill

Optimists see the positive aspects of circumstances and routinely expect favourable outcomes, believing that good conquers evil and that the world is, for the most part, a great place. 

In his book, Learned Optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman, psychologist and father of positive psychology, says that while humans may be pre-wired for pessimism (required for survival in our early evolution), optimism can be learned.

Mild pessimism has its place. After all, we want our pilots to err on the side of caution and de-ice the plane one more time, and for our doctors to be on the lookout for the worst-case scenario. But living life in a state of persistent pessimism minimizes joy and fulfillment.

Is it my fault or just dumb luck?

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
~ Anais Nin

Seligman’s research clearly shows that the way we think affects the way we feel, which ultimately influences how we experience life. There are many studies that correlate optimism to better relationships, earning more money, and even living longer. 

The good news is that, even if we’re glass-half-empty people, we can learn to be more optimistic. 

As it turns out, our level of optimism is closely tied to our explanatory styles. In a nutshell (and very simplistically), “I burned dinner. I always burn dinner. I am a terrible cook.” vs. “Dinner is burned. I got distracted. I will stop answering the phone when I’m cooking.” Same event but very different mindsets. (and now, thank God for Skip the Dishes!).

The ABCs of optimism.

So how do you become more optimistic? While surrounding yourself with positive people, and practicing gratitude and self-love are all helpful, slaying persistent pessimism lies in changing your explanatory style. 

Two leading cognitive therapists, Dr. Steven Hollon and Dr. Arthur Freeman have developed the ABC (adversity, belief, consequences) technique. In Learned Optimism, Seligman explains the technique and the steps to adopting a more optimistic mindset. 


A.You went for drinks with friends and made a glutton of yourself with beer and wings.
B. You’re weak and you blew your diet. 
C. You might as well give up, have dessert, and go back to your old ways of eating. 


A.You went for drinks with friends and enjoyed beer and wings.
B. Beer and wings are not part of your diet, but you didn’t have dinner and the calories count is almost the same. One slip-up in two weeks is not weakness, it’s just being human..
C. I have successfully lost 8 pounds in two weeks. I will cut my losses and continue dieting. 

Pessimism is inheritable, so while you can blame your parents for having passed on their pessimism genes, you can’t blame them for your current state.

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."
~ Maya Angelou

What we’re seeing in Calgary’s legal industry.

Currently, from our perspective at ULR, things in Western Canada’s legal industry are looking optimistic. Activity in certain areas of practice such as Securities, Family Law, Employment and Labour, and Insolvency appear to be increasing. There is also an ongoing need for legal assistants, paralegals, and other types of law firm support. 

Once the pandemic is over, it’s likely there will be pent up demand, with people having put off non-essential legal matters, and we will enter a period of increased activity and growth. Law firms will also be questioning their need for prime downtown office space as they have seen how effective and efficient their staff can be from home. It’s likely that businesses overall will be looking at their overhead and how much is being spent on leasing space.

So, in response to the initial question of whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, as it turns out, the glass is refillable. 

Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you. 

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.