You’ve probably seen a lot of articles lately about mindfulness. It is tracking full steam ahead as a way of being, a focus, an attitude, both in our personal and professional lives.
What is mindfulness and can we achieve it? Is it something that belongs in the workplace? Do you need to meditate to be mindful?
Mindful, an adjective, has been in use since the Middle Ages. It means to be attentive, aware or careful. Mindful from a psychological perspective defines it as being consciously aware of your thoughts and feelings, while remaining neutral toward what is being experienced in the moment. In other words, don’t judge what you’re thinking or feeling. Just be present in the moment and aware of how you are feeling or what you are thinking, but don’t analyze it. It is what it is.
Mindfulness was, and is part of Buddhist practice which started over 2,500 years ago. At that time, attaining mindfulness was closely associated with religion, spirituality and meditation. As a result, many people weren’t interested in mindfulness because it seemed out of reach and limited to those with a capacity for religious belief and practices.
Today we know mindfulness is attainable by anyone. How can being mindful in our daily lives help us? Life gets stressful – personally and professionally. We each could benefit from being mindful of what’s going on so that we can:
React appropriately to the matter at hand
Stay calm and not get angry, or say or do things we may regret later
Be thoughtful and respectful of others in how we react
Take a step back to evaluate the situation and how it’s making us feel
Mindfulness reminds us to listen to others to understand their perspective so it helps up to think before we speak. Mindfulness can be very simple. It’s getting a focus of intent that we each had before we knew you could multi-task. It’s an attitude that lets you enjoy what is currently in front of you and most important.
In the day-to-day work environment, mindfulness becomes a way to help ourselves manage difficult situations as well as to be present and engaged in the work we do.
A few weeks ago I wrote about employee engagement. The number of workers who are not engaged is a staggering 54%. This is what I wrote, “.....stop and consider this for a minute. Over half of your workforce is not present in the moment at work.”
What can organizations do to support employees to be present and engaged? One avenue is to promote mindfulness. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to start meditating. What it means is that individuals need to be aware of themselves and how what they do may impact others. They need to focus on an immediate priority, and recognize the work they do has value and supports organizational goals.
Recognizing and informing employees of the value their work brings is the organization’s responsibility. This can be accomplished through communication, ongoing two-way conversations about expected work outcomes and performance, and providing opportunities for professional development which shows interest and support in their success. Mindfulness training and how to integrate it into one’s life and work will help employees to be more engaged. Engaged employees are more productive, care more about their work, and are loyal to the organization.