Mindfulness: What does it mean?
Mindfulness is one of the most important things you can learn in order to live your life to the fullest. What exactly does it mean to be mindful? According to Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary Website, 2014), the definition of mindfulness is, "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something." Mindfulness is essential in every aspect of your life, but being mindful in the workplace is something that every successful person needs to learn. It's a personal journey that every person should take to be more successful in life. Learning how to be mindful will make one's personal life less chaotic and make the workplace more productive.
How can being mindful help?
In today's hectic and chaotic world, being aware of your own actions, as well as your interactions with others, is something that will get you far in life, both personally and in the workplace. How often have you found yourself on autopilot during the day? A great example of being on autopilot is when you are in the car driving and don't remember how you got from point A to point B. Researchers found that, on average, people's minds wander 47 percent of the time (Tierney, 2010). When a person's mind wanders, they aren't at their happiest or most productive. In fact, when our minds wander, it's almost always regarding something unpleasant, such as work issues, finance issues or the like.
Unfortunately, many people are not "present" in their own lives due to many different life distractions. Whether it is because we are always in constant contact with the outside world because of the ever-evolving technology, a chaotic schedule, or a combination of both, there is a solution to this, and it is to always be mindful.
Being mindful, and always being in the present, will help immensely in both your personal and professional lives. If you take the time to learn how to be more mindful, you will be surprised at how much your life will change for the better. Not only that, but being aware of all the situations you find yourself in will assist with your interaction with others, as well as your understanding of others.
As time goes on, more and more human resources departments are training employees on the importance of being mindful. Being aware of your present surroundings has proven to be effective in reducing stress in the workplace, while also improving productivity. These are just a couple of examples, when we discuss the many different benefits of being mindful. In short, practicing mindfulness each and every day will make you stronger and more flexible when it comes to dealing with every day stresses, especially in the workplace.
From an employer's point of view, it's in their best interest, as well. Recent evidence suggests that being mindful can actually reduce stress in the workplace, and can help companies across the nation diminish stress-related costs. In fact, a University of Miami associate psychology professor by the name of Amishi Jha has researched this issue and found that, "just as physical exercise is critical for our body's health, mental exercises, such as mindfulness training, are necessary for our psychological and brain health" (Goodman, 2014). Programs that teach mindfulness are becoming more abundant in the workplace.
The History of Mindfulness
The mind is a very powerful tool. Being mindful isn't something that is learned overnight. It takes a lot of practice, as well as a lot of patience. The history of mindfulness has been around for centuries. It stems from the Buddhist practice of meditation, which is around 2,500 years old. Mindfulness appears in much of the old literature. Over the years, society has seemed to lose sight the importance of being mindful, and it's now making a big comeback.
It's important to note that mindfulness is not a religion. Many religions use it in their teachings, but that doesn't mean that's the basis for it. No matter your personal background or beliefs, being mindful is something that will change your life for the better. To truly understand mindfulness and what it can do for you is something that you must take the initiative to learn.
When it comes to the way we deal with mindfulness, it has a lot to do with expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. In the late 1970s, he founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He put together an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program (Mindfulnet.org, 2014). Since then, the program has become something that is used in mental health practices all over the United States.
Being mindful has to do with being aware of the present only. It has nothing to do with thinking about what you have to do tomorrow, or about what you should have done yesterday. These are very destructive ways of thinking that will not help you to reach the important goal of being more mindful. There are many benefits of being mindful when it comes to the workplace. For example, recent studies show that roughly 40 percent of workers reported that their job was very or extremely stressful. (The American Institute of Stress Website, 2014) Here are some alarming statistics:
Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than with financial issues or family problems.
80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, and nearly half of these workers say they need help in learning how to manage stress; 42 percent say their co-workers need such help.
29 percent of workers felt quite a bit or extremely stressed at work.
14 percent of workers had felt like striking a co-worker in the past year, but didn't.
An alarming rate of 9 percent of workers are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace.
These are all signs that learning to be mindful in the workplace is essential to a productive workplace, and a safe environment. There are several things that have caused employees to be more stressed over the past years, such as job insecurity, lack of passion in their work, and poor management. Some of this has to do with the tough economic times, and some of this has to do with the fact that jobs have become more demanding from decades past.
According to the World Health Organization, stress is the number one health problem in the United States, and this is something that can easily be corrected if everyone takes the time to learn how to deal with things in ways more conducive to mental health. (Word Health Organization Website, 2014) They state, "Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope." In most cases, it is poor management, poor work organization and/or pressure from too much work overload that is causing the epidemic of an abundance of work-related stress.
No matter the reason, there are no easy answers and stress will continue to remain an issue for businesses all across the United States unless employees start learning what mindfulness in the workplace can do for them -- not to mention the recent tumultuous economic issues that have caused people to worry about their job security and the unknown future. Both employers and employees have to do their part to make the workplace better for all involved.
The many benefits of being mindful in the workplace
Today's workplace pressures are something employees can't escape. However, when mindfulness is being practiced in the workplace, it's very beneficial to both employees and companies. Below we will discuss the many benefits of being mindful in the workplace.
1. Reduces stress and anxiety. The biggest benefit of all is the fact that being mindful is a tremendous stress reliever. Being focused on the present will greatly assist with all types of work-related stress and anxiety, as well as any stresses in your personal life, because the two almost always go hand in hand. There's no sense thinking about what has happened and what might happen tomorrow. This just adds too much complication to your day.
2. Reduces conflict with co-workers. When your stress is under control, it will help how you get along with co-workers. Being stressed makes communication more difficult because you aren't clear-minded. Being mindful will help you to address the issue more clearly and work on correcting it as soon as possible. In these stressful situations, it is always important to look at the big picture and try to understand the other person, and why they are the way they are. Be careful not to criticize too much, because this will only cause more issues in the future. Being overcritical doesn't help any situation.
3. Improve communication. Effective communication is one of the most important aspects of mindfulness. In short, it's important to be an effective communicator in order to make everything a little easier to deal with.
4. Be more creative. If you have a creative occupation, such as a musician, writer or artist, being mindful is one of the most important things you can do. It will surprise you how creativity will flow more freely while being in the moment.
5. Balance work and home. For a lot of people, balancing work and home is a very difficult thing to do. The freer your mind is, and the clearer you thinking is, you will be able to leave work at the office and be present in your family life.
6. Increase productivity. Increased productivity is another positive to being more aware of what is around you at that moment. This, alone, will help immensely when it comes to the stress of your job.
7. Increase emotional intelligence . According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence in the workplace is one of the keys to professional success. (Baer, 2013) In order to be emotionally intelligent, he explains that people need to have confidence, which will help in being aware of individual strengths and weaknesses. Emotional intelligence can be gained quickly with self-awareness.
8. Assists with memory. How often do you find yourself overlooking a bill due date, or trying to remember where you left your keys? If you aren't focusing, then you will have issues with your memory. Being mindful can help with this as well. Within the past year, researchers have also found that being mindful can also improve a person's memory and focus as well. (Walton, 2013) Being in the moment will help you relax, which in turn will help you focus better on the task at hand. You will be able to focus much better on what you are doing at that particular moment, such as reading a book or writing a paper. You will find your mind to be sharper and more focused, which will help you put your best out there, because it will help with the issue of your mind constantly wandering.
9. Understand your own self better. Being in the moment will not only help what's going on around you at that moment, but it will also help you understand yourself better. The practice of being mindful is all about enlightenment. As one study states, "You can become aware of where your mind tends to go during the day and to recognize thinking patterns that might be creating problems for you ... It brings a similar focused, non-judgment awareness to our daily tasks." (Selenati, 2014)
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