Mindfulness is an increasingly popular notion in the workplace, with companies such as Apple, Yahoo, Starbucks, and Google using it to their benefit. Google, for example, offers employees a 19-hour course on the subject, which is so popular that thousands of people aside Google employees take it yearly.
So what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.
Mindfulness is a simple yet effective form of meditation that enables you to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness are more focused, even when they are not meditating. Mindfulness is an excellent technique used to reduce stress.
Mindfulness gives those who practice it the ability to stop and feel the world around them. Practicing mindfulness exercises can help you direct your attention away from overwhelming daily activities such as planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts which can be draining.
Practicing mindfulness stops you from feeling out of control, stops you from jumping from one thought to the next, and stops you from ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, it’ s a great way to make it through your busy day in a calm and productive manner.
Why is mindfulness becoming so popular in the workplace you may ask,
While the benefits of mindfulness are many, perhaps the most important reason that companies such as Google are sold on it is its ability to directly improve performance.
Participants of “Search Inside Yourself” Google’s mindfulness program, report being calmer, more patient, and better able to listen. They also say the program helped them better handle stress and defuse emotions. Companies that set up mindfulness programs for their employees also includes Intel. In 2012 Intel began offering its [email protected] mindfulness program. On a scale of 1 – 10 participants report a two-point decrease in stress and feeling overwhelmed, a three-point increase in overall happiness and well-being, and a two-point increase in new ideas, insights, mental clarity, creativity, ability to focus, quality of relationships at work, and level of engagement in meetings, projects, and team efforts . All of which are articulated goals of the program..
It is important to note that the mindfulness movement isn’t all about improvement in performance; there are a number of other important reasons why companies are making mindfulness a priority. Five of these reasons follow, all great illustrations of why we should all be using mindfulness to our benefit.
Mindfulness is the ultimate stress-reliever.
Stress is more than a performance killer; it’ s a people killer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly two-thirds of all hospital visits are for stress-related problems, and 75% of health-care expenses are stress related. Stress can cause high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and many more. Mindfulness is a great stress reliever because it takes you out of fight-or-flight mode and brings you into a relaxed state of mental clarity and calm.
Mindfulness improves your ability to focus.
Mindfulness improves your ability to focus on one thing at a time. This focus carries over into everything you do. Mindfulness teaches you to avoid distractions and bring a heightened level of concentration to your work.
Mindfulness boosts your creativity.
Creativity hinges on your mental state. Mindfulness helps you to get into a creative frame of mind by defeating the negative thoughts that stifle creative thinking and self-expression. The fact that mindfulness focuses on “the now” helps you to think freely and creatively.
Mindfulness improves your emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. EQ is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others and to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.
Decades of research now point to EQ as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with tremendous results. TalentSmart tested EQ alongside 33 other important workplace skills and found that EQ is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs. Of all the people we’ve studied at work, we’ve found that 90% of top performers are also high in EQ.
The heightened awareness that exists in a mindful state allows you to more clearly feel, label, and understand your emotions. This turbocharges your emotional intelligence because it greatly increases your self-awareness, which is the foundation of a high EQ.
Mindfulness makes you a better person.
A Harvard study found strong connections between mindfulness and prosocial behavior. Subjects who meditated showed compassion and kindness to others 50% more often than those who didn’t. There’s something about feeling present and calm that brings out the best in people.
Bringing It All Together
Mindfulness can improve your performance now as well as your capacity to perform in the future. Give it a try, and you’ll be surprised where it takes you