5 Life Hacks for Mindfulness in the Workplace
You've been meditating. Something is still missing. Here's what to do about it.
Posted April 15, 2016
Almost every blogger in the self-improvement space has written about mindfulness recently—us included. You’ve likely tried it. Some of you have stuck with it. But you, too, might be experiencing what we did a year or two after beginning down the road of meditation and mindfulness: Life was better, but big, harry, pivotal life moments could spin us like whirling dervishes. For most people, this whirl happens at work where such a mode is often glorified.
Thankfully, we kept on with the program and discovered five tangible extensions of mindfulness to stop the spin, reduce stress, and greatly increase productivity and effectiveness. The latter, incidentally, gives you more free time for after-work activities and life on your own terms. And if you don’t believe that mindfulness can help you in even the highest stress situations, we encourage you to see the latest research showing that mindfulness is changing the brains of our veterans, diminishing the symptoms of PTSD.
Now, if it can do that …
So we present these five practical extensions of mindfulness in a work context because it’s an extremely common situation, but you will find they can improve almost any life circumstance.
- Wish Others Well—What are your thoughts when entering a meeting? Are they “Mr. X is just going to waste my time again?” Many of us start with a similar attitude. What would happen if you said something like, “I wish Mr. X a productive and fulfilling meeting?” Think of your next meeting, and try applying each statement previously quoted in your mind to it right now. Right? It works! You feel happier wishing someone well. What’s more, your spirit is now invested in the success of the meeting—meaning, for example, that you might listen more, ask some helpful questions, and give Mr. X your uplifted energy in the room from which to feed.
- Look Them in the Eye—How often do you find yourself on the receiving end of a conversation where the other person's eyes are wandering? How did this make youSource: Freestockphotos.biz – Frédéric Dupont
feel, and why do so many of us do this? Neuro-linguistic programming tells us that people do this when they are visualizing what is being said, which can be constructive and useful. But what you are seeing when you look away can distract you, not to mention that the listener is at least subliminally aware you are not invested in the conversation. Thankfully, with mindfulness, you’ve learned to repeatedly return to a constant point of focus. So make that point the other person’s eyes. By engaging the eyes, you also will be more equipped to influence the outcomes and essence of your conversations. If someone you are talking to is acting erratic and stressed—hence, stressing you—for example, calming yourself while looking them in the eye will calm them as well. You will also absorb more of what they say.
- Use One Minute Meditation—Get into the habit of taking 10 deep breaths before every major entry on your calendar begins. You hopefully by now have felt the deep power of focus on the breath to refocus thoughts. Spending a little time to take simple deep, long breaths is like shaking an Etch A Sketch. You reset the rhythm of your body and thus mind. You are reset to your rhythmic essence, ready to take on the next task refreshed and productive.
- Smile—Now that you have the mindfulness to focus more on your mind and body in the day-to-day, concentrate on smiling. It will become a habit. Why smile? WeSource: Flickr – Mark Vegas
could write a whole post on it, frankly. Thankfully, fellow Huffington Post blogger Alex Korb already did. In brief, it takes just as much energy—even less—to go through a minute smiling than painting your face stressed or sad. And you’ve heard the expression, “She lights up a room” or “Smile, and the whole world smiles with you.” This is a simple way to create the workplace you always wanted. And smiling “can reduce the level of stress-enhancing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline while increasing mood-enhancing hormones like endorphins.” This power is at your fingertips!
- Acknowledge Judgments, and Set Them Aside—Picture your most recent meeting with, let’s say, five or more people. How much energy did you invest in evaluating how the participants were dressed, how they spoke, whether what they said was right or wrong, and whether you were better than them? It’s not your fault. Companies incentivize competition, but it has been proven countless times that humans are horrible multitaskers, and you are multitasking. You also are missing so much useful information that you could be using to make better decisions and solve so many problems more effectively. As you sit on the cushion to meditate, you learn that judging yourself is exhausting and counterproductive. Meditation is about just observing your mind as a spectator. Do the same thing at work, and you won’t have to compete. Rather, you will fly up the ranks faster without even thinking about achievement or competition.
You’ve known that mindfulness raises your self esteem, helps you give more of what you have to offer, makes you more optimistic, and promotes happiness. Now bring that to the workplace, and become your own favorite coworker.
Laura Berger, PCC and Glen Tibaldeo, PMP, CPA are authors and popular speakers at national conferences and for Fortune companies. Glen is a Project Strategist / Change Management Consultant and screenwriter for Radical Sabbatical, and Laura is an Executive Coach, both for the Berdeo Group LLC. Their Bestseller Radical Sabbatical is described by Dave Barry as "the funniest book I have ever held in my hands" and is available on Amazon, kobo, Barnes and Noble, and at other major bookstores.