For Type A competitive high energy people who think it’s impossible for them to be mindful and remain in the moment
Mindfulness. Being in the moment. Present. This is not Yogi Guru Spiritual Granola Earth Vibrations stuff. It’s real-life ways to improve your brain function, make you more successful in life and business and make you a way better leader.
Until Mindfulness hit me from 3 different people at 3 different times, I was always dismissing the practice as more work than it was worth. Like, ugh, I’m horrible at meditation, this is NOT for me. I’m a doer of things and meditation is never going to be something I’m “good” at. I’ve read a book about it, I’ve done Yoga, I’ve tried apps for guided meditation and I self-diagnosed as “terrible” and abandoned it completely. Ha! Typical response from someone with a Type A personality, Activator and over-the-top competitive. But listen up folks, mindfulness is not meditation (although meditation practice does enhance your mindfulness) and it is VITAL for your success, health, creativity, and ability to lead. Also, I was happy to find out I was already doing lots of mindfulness training and didn’t even know it. Bonus! Maybe you are also practicing mindfulness or maybe you are simply interested in reducing your stress, being more effective in business and generally improving your experiences. Here are a few ways to be more mindful starting now.
But first, what the heck is Mindfulness anyway? According to Wikipedia, “The practice of mindfulness involves being aware moment-to-moment, of one’s subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective. When practicing mindfulness, one becomes aware of one’s “stream of consciousness“. The skill of mindfulness can be gradually developed using meditational practices that are described in detail in the Buddhist tradition.” In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your thoughts and remaining in the moment.
If you need more evidence, read this Harvard Business Review interview with professor Ellen Langer whose four decades of research make her the foremost expert on mindfulness and it’s effects on all aspects of our lives, specifically our business success. Boom!
Now on to the list….
1) Stop Judging Yourself + Start Praising Your Efforts
What makes you awesome at running a business, a household, an organization, and likely everything in your life makes it difficult for you to ever say, “I’m good enough.” or “I’m OK with being average.” You are used to being good at everything the first time you try and mastering things quickly. Meditation and Mindfulness are not activities to master. You “win” when you are aware of your mind drifting. The time you spend meditating has nothing to do with your success. Which is frustrating for most ambitious personalities. You want to measure things and demonstrate your progress. Take this desire to measure, and measure the moment when you catch your mind drifting away from the present. Praise yourself for these victories. Stop judging yourself for not “winning” at mindfulness.
2) Start Small
Just start by noticing the thoughts you are having. Then start noticing where they take you. Stay focussed on what is happening right now. In the moment. Mindfulness is the practice of noticing and being aware of your thoughts. Don’t worry about whether you are doing it right, just start small with a few minutes of noticing your thoughts and being aware of what is happening right now at this moment. Build from there by returning your thoughts to the moment when you start to recognize the drift into mindlessness. Remember Step 1 and resist judging yourself when you “catch” yourself being mindless. Look! At least you are able to notice it and that is mindfulness! Woohoo! Great job!
3) Be Open In All Situations
If you are practicing mindfulness you are inherently in the moment and aware of all the things happening around you. If you are also consciously open, your ability to recognize opportunities in the moment is far greater. When you are open and in the moment, you are able to act on new ideas, people and opportunities, and this can lead to better, more successful business.
4) Take a Bath and Eat Licorice
For me, the solitude of a hot bath with epsom salts, a candle, and a handful of licorice is the quickest way for me to mellow my mind. Exercise is my go-to as well, but there is typically a lot of stimulus when you exercise so it’s different in that way. Turns out I was choosing some very mindful activities. The bath is well known, but did you know that chewing reduces the cortisol hormone in our bodies? This is the stress hormone we conjure up when we feel threatened or anxious and chewing helps reduce it’s levels. You may not be a bath person, so find your sanctuary. Make it a habit.
5) Share Your Techniques
Once you find the blend of mindfulness techniques that work well to keep you present and in the moment, share them with your family or those around you. Sharing your methods with others brings even more mindfulness to your universe and makes it easier for you to remain in the moment. Your work teams may benefit greatly from mindfulness training and practice. Consider this as part of your workforce development plans.
In case you didn’t jump right over to it earlier in the post, take a few minutes and read this Harvard Business Review article on mindfulness and business. It helps make it all work in your ambitious brain and gives you practical applications for business scenarios. Like, dealing with a disgruntled client to find win-win outcomes. Yes, please!
Remember, you are good at mindfulness and the world thanks you.