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By Lisa Cypers Kamen.

MeditatingWe live in an increasingly litigious society. Your neighbor makes a little noise? Sue. Someone fails to pay you on time? Sue. You get in a car accident? Sue.

The problem with this approach to life is that in an adversarial proceeding, no one wins. Even the technical winner of a protracted lawsuit has lost time, money, sleep and soul in the process. Of course, you don’t see that on TV. Television has glamourized lawsuits, cutting out the months and years an average lawsuit takes and instead going straight from the inception of a case to trial, all in 30 minutes or less. In reality, 95% of cases never make it to trial. After years of threats and motions and discovery and back and forth, the parties, both limp from the exercise, usually settle.

Of course, there is another option. It’s not one people talk about very often. It isn’t as dramatic. It isn’t as “sexy.” But you know what? It’s designed to be a win-win situation. It will save you countless dollars and immeasurable stress. It’s called mediation. In mediation, both parties show up, share information and with the support of a trained mediator, reach a mutually agreeable solution. There’s no jury. There’s no judge. It doesn’t require years of paperwork. It does, however, require an open mind and ears and a willingness to participate in the process.

These options aren’t limited to how to handle a lawsuit. They represent how you chose to live your life. Are you spending your time litigating, your life full of anger, competition and dissatisfaction? Or are you mediating, gracefully navigating difficult situations to find amicable solutions?

The choice is yours. But I suggest disposing of the litigious mindset that is thrust upon us by our sue-happy culture. Life is simply too short. Take a positive, conciliatory approach to life and you’ll be amazed how productive and happy you can be.

Happiness Strategy:

Imagine that a mediator and litigator are both sitting next to you. Imagine a conversation between these two people, and what mindset each would bring to the table. On a sheet of paper, jot down how you think each person would try to resolve the following situations:

  1. Your neighbor has been playing loud music the last few weeknights, sometimes well past midnight. You’ve lost sleep over the noise and have been groggy at work.
  2. A long-term project in which you played a major role just won your company accolades and positive press. One of your coworkers has portrayed himself publicly as the team leader and the main force behind the project’s success, but you know that you and the other coworkers involved were just as crucial to the final product.
  3. It seems as if your spouse has lied to you about one thing after another lately.  You are not sure what is going on but suspect the dishonesty is covering up a larger issue.

Take a moment to reflect on these two approaches to solving problems. Identify the characteristics of the mediator and the litigator, and keep in mind the mediator approach next time you are confronted with a problem. The mediator mindset will keep you productive and positive, with happiness quickly following suit.

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Lisa Cypers Kamen is a filmmaker, positive psychology coach, author, host of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio, professor and lecturer specializing in the field of sustainable happiness. She is widely recognized as an expert on the subject. Lisa’s acclaimed documentary film co-produced with her now fifteen year-old daughter, Kayla, “H-Factor…Where is your heart?” explores how people in varied circumstances find, generate and share happiness. In addition to her film on happiness, Lisa has also published a number of articles and books entitled, Got Happiness Now?, Are We Happy Yet?, Leadership: Helping Others to Succeed and Reintegration Strategies, about combat trauma and using positive psychology principles to create wellness in a post-war new normal. Lisa’s written work is featured on blogs for the Huffington Post, and and she is a TEDx community event speaker. In addition, she is the Happiness Expert for the Florida Department of Citrus/ Florida Orange Juice in its Take on the Day campaign.

Harvesting Happiness for Heroes™ is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that delivers stigma-free integrated combat trauma recovery services to warriors and their loved ones. Modalities include scientifically proven strengths based Positive Psychology coaching and interdisciplinary tools such as film, yoga, meditation, art and creative writing designed to mindfully empower the client to achieve increased self-mastery, self-esteem and reclaim her/his life. HH4Heroes focuses on the balance of mind, body and emotion resulting in greater overall wellbeing and the transformation of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) into Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). HH4Heroes offers retreat workshops, one-on-one coaching, Battle Buddy programs, as well as our new R.E.B.O.O.T Online virtual community coaching classrooms designed to reach underserved areas. In addition, HH4Heroes deploys Return to Duty™ civilian and corporate training to help welcome a warrior home and into the community and workplace.

Lisa is committed to teaching Happiness is an inside job™ and helping others end their needless suffering through intentionally cultivating greater joy.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Nice post, Lisa! I really agree with your constructive approach. In some case, people might believe that the litigious approach takes less work, perhaps expecting that others, like attorneys, do most of the work. In the end, though, mediation usually goes faster, reaches a more fair resolution and–best of all–it paves the way for even simple and easier solutions ahead.

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