Never have we been able to do so much in the workplace.  And never have those workplaces seemed as busy as they are now.  Which means one thing, stress. A recent simple survey identified that over 52% of Malaysians felt stressed anywhere between three to five days a week.

Of course, we are equipped like never before to do our jobs – the tools at our disposal are like nothing we could have dreamed of just 20 years ago.  The problem there though?  More and more becomes expected of us on a near 24/7 basis.  There is an answer to this growing problem – practicing mindfulness.

The mind is just like the body, it needs to be exercised to be kept in shape.  But at the same time, there are excesses and practices that need to be avoided.  That’s where mindfulness comes in.

According to Psychology Today, mindfulness comes with three definitions:

  1. Not taking things for granted.
  2. Returning to the present moment.
  3. “The self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance.” [1]

First, taking things for granted is a very widespread problem for many of us.  We get frustrated when the smart-pad glitches, or don’t have wi-fi at 35,000 feet, but forget to be mindful of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the family that we have and so on.

Second, returning to the present moment is something that we would do well to learn from our children and our animal friends.  Human adults have the unfortunate ability to simultaneously be anxious about the future while hung up on the past.  Ever seen a kid acting out as a cowboy or a nurse?  Or a cat play with some string?  Both are living in the moment, the here and now.  As adults, we can’t do that continually, but we can at least have moments when we try and we should.

Third, maintaining the self-discipline of attention, staying on task, with natural curiosity and openness is all about balance.  As we know, balance is the key to so much and in its absence, we can allow stress, and worse, to easily creep in.

So, mindfulness incorporates those three tenets.  The stand-out strategy to incorporate all three is meditation (a word often interchangeable with mindfulness).  Meditation is a work-out for the mind in which one takes the time to learn how to be at one with life, with work, with family and so on.  Think of how “jagged” those relationships can sometimes be.  Conversely, meditation allows us to “smooth those out” and reconnect with the ability to relax and the surroundings around us.

The benefits of mindfulness don’t just stop there.  Studies of Buddhist monks, the arch practitioners of the fine art of meditation have actually shown a complete absence of things like anxiety, depression and addiction. [2]

So, while modern life and work have become ever more rewarding, they now come with more potential for stress than ever before.  To be able to offset that as effectively as possible, we need to rediscover our own natural mindfulness.  It’s in there – you just need to give it the chance to do its thing for you.  Your mind, body, and yes, your boss, will thank you for it!




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