Mindfulness isn’t what we think it is.
Actually, mindfulness isn’t anything that we think; it’s what we don’t think.
Mindfulness isn’t something that other people do; it’s something that we all do.
We all need to be at least a little bit mindful to get through our days without getting hit by the first bus that we mindlessly wander out in front of, or getting hit by the first other totally mindless person whose toes we mindlessly tread on.
On a more subtle survival level, being continuously rather than just occasionally mindful can help us to get through a day — or even longer — without getting upset by life.
What Is Mindfulness?
Being mindful simply means being fully aware, fully able to consciously direct our awareness to what is — right here, right now — and fully accepting what we’re aware of.
We can all live and work mindfully as soon as we let go of our ideas about what we can and can’t be. This is our natural state of peace and happiness, and it happens all by itself when we stop getting distracted by what isn’t — our imaginings of times past and future. The trick to mindfulness is that it’s a lot easier than we think it is.
But why bother with mindfulness in the first place? I’ll tell you.
How Mindfulness Can Help You
1. It will calm you down.
Mindfulness can reduce your anxiety and stress, including your workplace anxiety and stress.
2. It will make you happier.
Mindfulness will increase your enjoyment of life overall. There is scientific evidence that it doesn’t matter much what we do or work at; as long as we do it with full awareness and acceptance, we will enjoy it.
This is the modern scientific version of the secret of happiness, given by Indian philosopher Krishnamerti: simply believing the phrase “I don’t mind what happens.”
Related: The 7 C’s Of Happy Relationships
3. It will increase your emotional intelligence.
Have some trouble with emotions in general? Mindfulness increases our emotional intelligence, especially our self-awareness and empathy.
4. It can give you true job satisfaction.
Mindfulness can work for our work better than a promotion can, or a pay rise, or a new job, or an industrial relations tribunal, or even a family-sized bottle of Prozac.
The principles of mindfulness can be applied very successfully to work in general — any work, both paid and unpaid. Mindfulness can help transform our working lives into something that really makes us fulfilled and happy, rather than something that we have to do or that we get paid to do.
Mindfulness can help us turn our job, no matter how challenging or even bad it might seem, into something that we would do for free, as well as for freedom.
Related: 5 Tips For Getting Your Dream Job
5. It makes naturally become leaders.
Great leaders lead themselves and others to great places and situations. They understand where other people need to go, and how they can best get there, because they know where they themselves need to go and how best to get there.
Being mindful helps you understand yourself, which in turn will help you understand other people. It will help you be clear, empathetic and calm.
Lead by example rather than by trying to force people to do what you want them to do.
6. It will help you become more decisive.
We make better large and small decisions when we are mindful because in this state, we are more connected with the people we work with and for, and we are more connected with our work tasks.
When we are mindful, we focus naturally on responding to our real task demands, because we are not distracted by our ideas about our task demands.
Don’t waste time trying to avoid mistakes at work; avoid conditions that lead to mistakes. We naturally make good decisions when we make them with a still, focused mind.
7. It will improve both your personal and professional relationships.
One of our greatest causes of stress and unhappiness are our relationships with others, including our working relationships. It connects us with who we are really interacting with, rather than our ideas about them as people. Mindfulness helps us work with people, not against them.
Treat people at work as if you are seeing them for the first time, and allow them to happily surprise you.
Less can be more. When we are mindful enough to stop and consider what we really need to be doing in our work, we can work more efficiently, productively, and enjoyably.
Things work out well if we just let them be what they are and stop wanting them to be what they aren’t.
Our work is greater than the sum of its working parts. We will work better when we are mindful enough to realize who we really are and why we are really working on what we are working on. We are all working on being the best that we can be…together.
Dr. Stephen McKenzie has a PhD in psychology and is a lecturer, researcher, and writer in many areas, including the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs, dementia, depression, transcultural psychiatry, preventive health, statistics and … mindfulness. Since 2012, Stephen has published three books: the best-selling Mindfulness for Life, with Dr Craig Hassed (2012, Exisle), an introductory statistics for health science students text book – Vital Statistics (2013, Elsevier), and the about-to-be-released in America Mindfulness at Work (2014, Career Press).
Photo by HckySo