Today is Christmas Eve and we hope everyone is enjoying time with those who mean most to you. The best present we can give you, you can give others and maybe even to yourself is to be present: practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of taking yourself off of "auto-pilot" and can improve your personal and professional relationships alike. Mindfulness works off the basis of two things: awareness and acceptance. Awareness is achieved through expanding attention to your inner experiences. One way you can do this is through slowing down the eating process. A classic mindfulness exercise involves eating something like a Hershey's kiss, a raisin, or a piece of popcorn. Slow down the act of eating. What does the food
- look like?
- feel like?
- taste like?
As you eat it, what thoughts flow into your mind? How does it make you feel? Take a couple of minutes to deliberately work through each of these as you eat it. By repeating this exercise of focusing on something that you typically do mindlessly every day for a week, you can learn to expand your consciousness. By the end of January, you'll have learned how to focus your attention wherever necessary.
The second piece is acceptance. To accept what's going on around you,
Mindfulness makes us more attentive.
We've all been there: in the meeting or at the dinner table with the person who can not put their phone down. It's both annoying and exhausting. But that's where mindfulness can help: it changes areas of the brain associated with directing focus. You do not want to be that person. Being that person makes people thing you don't respect them and makes you seem distant. Use mindfulness exercises to help you better connect with those around you. You'll be happier and so will those around you.
Mindfulness makes us more empathetic.
Contemplative training teaches the mind to move from an observation of suffering to benevolent action, without becoming paralyzed by others’ pain. This allows us to better identify others' emotions, understand our partners perspectives, and tap into compassion for others' situations. This can clearly come in handy at both work and at home. But it can help you in other ways as well: as you practice mindfulness, you strengthen your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain which translates information to your amygdala. The amygdala controls your motivations, emotions and emotional behavior. It's the part of your brain that controls the freeze, fight, or flight process and when things get heated at home or work, it's the part of the brain that also helps us keep our cool. It also helps us realize when we're acting out in unhealthy ways and help us know how to redirect our attention on healthier thoughts, activities and endeavors.
When we're mindful, present, attentive to our surroundings and empathetic to what's going on in our teams and with our workforce, we can get more done! Productivity doesn't just happen: it's connected to the people, places and things around us. Tune into it and unlock your productivity potential... and you might just find you've turned up the dial on your happy meter in the process. So there you have it: our "fortune cookie prediction" for happiness in the new year starts with learning about mindfulness.
We hope you've enjoyed the 12 days of Christmas series and enjoy your holiday season. We'll be back in January talking about culture, hiring, candidate experience and more in 2018. Until then, from our team to yours we wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!