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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 4, 202105:20 AM EST

From the President: Valentine's Day: It can mean more

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Maintaining healthy relationships helps your career and your life.

Valentine’s Day can have a bad reputation. It has been called “Singles’ Awareness Day” or a “Hallmark holiday” intended to promote consumerism and unrealistic expectations of romance.

But Feb. 14 is more than an opportunity to eat chocolate, dine at a five-star restaurant or cry while watching “The Notebook.”

Michelle Bedoya Barnett

It’s a day to let everyone close to us know how much we appreciate them. This is especially important now, coming out on the other side of a pandemic that forced much of our human-to-human interaction to cease.

Even through the toughest parts of the pandemic, the support of my family, friends, coworkers and fellow members of the Jacksonville Bar Association, whether through Zoom, over the phone or in person, uplifted and brightened my day.

Valentine’s Day is a reminder to cherish the important relationships in our lives and the people who support and enable us to be the best versions of ourselves. Healthy relationships provide us with the relief, comfort and support necessary to succeed in life and in the workplace.

One of my favorite quotes is by motivational speaker Jim Rohn who says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

As I look back on my life, the times I have been happiest and most successful are when I have been surrounded by good and positive people.

This past year has forcefully created a lot of family togetherness.  My husband makes me laugh, my son has educated me on Fortnite, my middle child has me reliving my childhood watching Full House, now Fuller House episodes, my youngest child has forced me to go outside and to play and run and bike and my Pacho does anything to make me get his leash and take him on a walk.

Despite the craziness in this world, this crew has made me very happy. There were other times in my life those people were my workmates, my neighbors, my classmates, my gal pals or members of the JBA. I list these groups because they all have been a special part of the great times.  

Our interpersonal relationships have a major impact not only on our happiness but on our health and our quality of life.

This is even backed by science. Studies have shown that strong personal relationships are a better indicator of good health and a long lifespan than weight, exercise or blood pressure.

A psychologist in one such study claimed that in regard to health, “a lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”

That seems reason enough to cultivate and maintain strong relationships with people who uplift you. 

The people around you, in any capacity, bolster your health, happiness and even your career. Happiness at home, a strong social circle and good health make achieving your goals at work and in life more feasible and enjoyable.

I am thankful for the collegial Bar that we have. During one of the most trying years in history, it is talking to my colleagues, brainstorming with opposing counsel on solutions and getting to peer into people’s homes through Zoom sessions that has brought much-needed distraction and laughter to my days.  

Take time this Valentine’s Day to call your mom, spoil your spouse, thank your coworkers or Zoom with an old friend. 

Show your gratitude for the people in your life that support you and help you further your personal goals and promote your health and happiness.

Whether they are romantic, friendly or familial, it is important to nurture and retain these close interpersonal relationships. Your career (and life) may depend on it.

Michelle Bedoya Barnett is a founding partner of Alexander DeGance Barnett, focusing on labor and employment law.

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