Mindfulness and Happiness at WorkPosted: June 16, 2014
Meditation, enlightenment and the pursuit of happiness were once considered the purview of New Age gurus, yogis and hippies—those folks who were “out there.” Now, these concepts, often encompassed under the banner of “mindfulness,” are moving into the mainstream and are being embraced in the business world. Let’s take a look at who’s leading the charge and what they are saying.
“Mindfulness is a process of actively noticing new things.”—Ellen Langer
- Mindfulness in the Age of Complexity. This Harvard Business Review article features an Interview with Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard. Her research on mindfulness has revealed that, “… by paying attention to what’s going on around us, instead of operating on auto-pilot, we can reduce stress, unlock creativity, and boost performance.” Langer links mindfulness to business practices and leadership at multiple points. Additional resources include her books Mindfulness and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.
- Another excellent article from Harvard Business Review is Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life, by Harvard professors Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams. Here, the authors debunk some of the myths about work/life balance, but also show deliberate choices can help reconcile conflicts between the various roles and responsibilities we all have. They look at five major themes: “defining success for yourself, managing technology, building support networks at work and at home, traveling or relocating selectively, and collaborating with your partner.”
- Another Harvard prof, author Shawn Achor turns conventional wisdom on its head by showing that instead of success leading to happiness, happiness leads to success. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work explores tested methods to improve performance and maximize potential.
- Moving away from the academic bent, Nightline anchor Dan Harris takes readers along on his journey through the worlds of spirituality and self-help to discovery the benefits of meditation in 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story.
Here’s a simple tenet for balance and happiness that I keep in mind: know what you love and love what you do. Living to work is not a privilege that comes easy. What routines do you have that allow you to be clear about who you are and what you enjoy? For example, I enjoy the sensory aspects of cycling…the focus on breathing, cycling technique and being engulfed by the surrounding sights and smells. It helps me reduce the daily noise of work and focus on the important longer-term items necessary for success.