Meditation Cultivates Happiness at Work

By: Julia Nugent, Journey Meditation Teacher

“True happiness is…to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future.”
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The average American spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. Cultivating happiness in the workplace is that much more important, given we spend so many waking hours there.

But it is not always easy to do. Many challenges can arise for employees, especially in high-stress environments. Time can go by, with no reprieve, feeling as though the days blend into weeks, and weeks into months. Dwelling on past mistakes takes us out of the present, as does worries about our future at the company. Meditation is a tool we use to learn how to be more mindful and present, focusing on the here and now, which leads to more happiness.

Bringing meditation into your workplace can have a variety of benefits:

Recruitment & Retention

There is so much amazing talent that companies are seeking to recruit to be a part of their growing team. With the popularity of company perks from leading companies such as Google (Named Fortune’s “Best Company to Work For” six years in a row), new talent wants to know how their employers are investing back into their well-being. With wellness and stress management programs, such as meditation, to improve mental health and reduce stress in a work environment, companies can attract the right talent. Not only will this lead to these companies being at the top of the list for new employees, but it can also lead to higher retention rates, because people want to work for companies that care about them, and these programs can increase their happiness overall.


When individuals work together for a shared goal or vision, company morale goes up. In some places the work can be isolating, having your own to-dos with a quarterly email recap on the success of the team and some donuts and coffee in the conference room as a pat on the back. By offering group meditation, it allows individuals to work together, and have a positive shared experience as a team that is far more fulfilling than a healthy snack or night out. Gathering together as a group to practice will ultimately garner a sense of camaraderie with participating employees as they work to support one another.


When employers invest in the well-being of their workers, they feel more empowered and cared for. Incorporating a meditation practice as a way to invest in the happiness and mental well-being of employees shows genuine care, and in turn, employees want to perform better for their companies. Not to mention that meditation is a practice that builds our ability to focus, which will lead to higher productivity. By guiding them, mentoring them and giving them tools to sharpen their minds, it can help them more effectively hone their skills. The result is more efficient, adept and happy workers.


Happiness as we know it is not something that can be sustained, but we can learn how to cultivate happiness moment to moment. And as employers, we can help bring this happiness into our workplaces with mindfulness programs like group meditation.

Happiness within Stressful Workplaces

By: David Hart, Journey Meditation Teacher

Americans spend more time at work than many industrialized nations (including Japan), which means that our coworkers outrank our partners and families for hours spent together. Unless you’re a cyborg, that will inevitably mean that frustrations will arise. How can we cultivate happiness—especially when work gets stressful? Here are some quick tips to help tilt the needle in the right direction.

Create calm where (and when) you can
Throughout the day, find ways to incorporate small moments of pause. Something as simple as taking 3 deep breaths, putting your phone down while you’re on the elevator, taking the stairs, or finding a quiet space to walk around for 5 minutes can shift your day. Give yourself a pause and a chance to change the internal narrative.

Get a trusted sounding board
Having a good friend at work is a key indicator of work satisfaction (studies show up to a seven times increase in workplace success), but it’s critical to not let every conversation become a whine session. Make sure to leave space to talk about what else is happening, what’s bringing you joy, and what your long term career goals are.

Try to schedule an open conversation with your coworker
People are all under pressure, often with circumstances we don’t know about within the office and at home. If it’s available, try to schedule a brief face-to-face conversation to explore how to collaboratively improve your success as teammates. If you can come to the table with an attitude of curiosity and ask questions, your colleague will be able to reveal their own frustrations or challenges. Most of all, try not to jump into blaming, listing grievances, or trying to immediately fix the problem with a new system.

Try kindness practice for your annoying coworker
Working with a “jerk” (whether real or perceived) can be exhausting, but meditation can offer some relief. I’ve found that the frustration of working with a difficult person is amplified when I start to view that person as only “that” person. Every email gets read with an eye roll, every meeting gets entered into with the anticipation of that thing they “always do,” and my expectations of what’s possible shrink. Kindness practice is about building the habit of expecting more than the worst case, and wishing good will to others—not a pollyannaish wish that they magically become Mr. Rogers overnight.

Find a comfortable place to sit

After a few minutes of sitting, bring to mind this difficult person

Notice what thoughts, stories, and emotions come up. Notice how your body feels — is there tightness? A change in temperature or sensation?

Now picture this person doing something they love that doesn’t take from anyone else—going for a walk, riding a bike, or sitting comfortably at a beach.

If phrases work for you in meditation, try things like “may you be well” or “may you be at ease”

Notice any changes in your thoughts, emotions, or body sensations.

In the working world, much of what happens is out of our direct control—markets sway, consumer preferences change, and technology adapts businesses rapidly. It’s key that we take action where we can by building meaningful connections and support within our environment. Within an office, attitude is as contagious as the common cold, so nurturing happiness helps teams survive and thrive with resilience.

A Practice in Contentment

By: Erin Rose Ward, Journey Meditation Teacher

You can’t buy happiness. A platitude we’ve all heard and nodded along to. We get to experience its truth when that life-perfecting piece of technology or dream vacation inevitably leaves us with an aftertaste of disappointment. Yet, many spiritual traditions acknowledge that joy is our natural state. Before we get bent and beaten up by the world, we come into it knowing a state of bliss. As babies, we cry when we are hurt, hungry, or tired, but outside of basic corporeal need, we are happy. Without reversing our experience in the world and if we can’t save enough money to buy it, how do we access happiness?

The answer: we let go of desiring it. If we release the pursuit of happiness, we create space for contentment. They differ in that the latter can occur without condition. It is not a search or a getting-to, but rather an opening up to the moment. A surrender to the present and a relaxing back into acceptance of the what is happening and where we are without the need for anything to be different. We inevitably, as humans born into a material world, unknowingly sign up for a ride that brings us from high peaks of ecstasy to low valleys of suffering and the mundane landscape in between. The constant throughout the journey, the thread we can follow back home at any point, is our access to contentment.

Contentment holds a hand with its dear companion acceptance. But how do we step into radical acceptance no matter the details of an external world? Quite an appropriate question for the current state of human affairs.

The answer: we allow it to be a practice. The ideal of contentment ascends from a static state to a moving internal experience. A practice of continually pausing, acknowledging what is present, and allowing it to be. As in many practices, patience and consistency are key to their evolution. The good news, your practice can be simple, made up of one deep breath, a conscious acknowledgement, and it can happen at any point in your day.

While you are commuting, at work, in the middle of a heated conversation, trying to convince your kids to pause their tantrum for a moment, brushing your teeth, no matter where you are, you can practice. The technique is so simple it may not seem substantial enough, yet you’ll find the effect is profound.

How to Practice Contentment: Simply bring your awareness to your belly. If it is safe you can close your eyes (like, don’t do this while driving). As you inhale say the word “Now” and make it last as long as a full inhale, lengthening the word to match the breath. As you exhale, say to yourself “it’s like this.” Breathe in, “Now” and breathe out, “it’s like this.” Call on it anytime you need. No time or money required because it’s already yours to receive.

By acknowledging the present moment for what it is you begin to chip away at the belief of what it needs to be, revealing at the core of it the astounding perfection of a moment that otherwise may have been labeled wrong and abandoned as quickly as possible. Let your contentment practice relax into what is here, which like you, is exactly what it needs to be.

Happiness Through Appreciation

By: Chris DiMeglio, Journey Meditation Teacher

Just about anyone would agree that taking time to appreciate the simple things is an important part of a happy life. But we may not be hardwired to pay attention in this way.

Evolutionary psychology tells us that it’s easier for us to notice a perceived problem than it is for us to take in what’s going well. This proclivity, referred to as the negativity bias, can likely be explained by considering our distant ancestors. Survival-wise, they’d be better served by worrying about the footprint of a natural predator than by delighting in the fragrant daffodil growing next to it.

So how can we acknowledge our challenges without losing sight of our good fortune? Here are three simple ideas to take for a spin:

Start the day with gratitude. The moment you wake up, let yourself smile and bring to mind five things you’re grateful for. I like to keep my gratitudes simple and to fill in the blank without thinking too much about it: “I’m grateful for _____ .” I’m grateful for having enough food to eat. I’m grateful for my parents. I’m grateful for the sunshine streaming through my window. Think of at least five, take a deep breath, and continue with your day.

Be mindful of simple things
. Throughout your day, find simple moments to let go of planning and deciding, and just pay attention to your present experience. The key is to tune in directly to your senses. When you walk from your desk to the kitchen, just feel your footsteps. When you’re eating lunch, take time just to taste your sandwich or to see the varied colors and textures in your salad. If you’re sitting outside, listen to the symphony all around you: the birds, the cars, the breeze. Just open to hearing for a few minutes with no other agenda. Getting in touch with the subtle richness of life can bring more happiness and freedom even to ordinary moments.

End the day with self-appreciation
. When you lie down to go to sleep at night, bring to mind five things you’re happy you did that day. It’s so easy to remember what you didn’t get done or where you think you fell short. And while there’s certainly a place for honest reflection on what you’d like to change, appreciating what you did do isn’t second-nature. Once again I like to keep it simple and fill in the blank: “I’m happy that I _____ today.” I’m happy that I texted my sister today. I’m happy that I was friendly with the check-out clerk at the grocery store today. I’m happy that I meditated today. Think of at least five then let yourself drift to sleep. An unexpected benefit I noticed when beginning this practice is that remembering what I’m proud of reinforced these habits and made it more likely that I’d do them again.

Practicing conscious appreciation has the benefit of boosting happiness and giving us a bigger, more balanced picture of our reality––all without changing any material conditions in our life.

Feel, Move, Breathe: Staying Balanced During the Holidays

By: Erin Rose Ward, Journey Meditation Teacher

The holiday season is heralded as the most wonderful time of the year, and certainly there is a whimsical and romantic quality to it all. However, along with the celebration comes the inevitable stresses of family, travel, the closing down a year, and the anticipation of another one. If you wake up a little less merry and a little more Grinch, you are not alone. More than that, you have the capacity to support yourself through the mindfulness practice. Taking a moment to reset through breath, movement, and awareness.

Here are three little practices to do anytime you need to bring yourself back to balance and calm, and make way for more yule tide cheer.

Feel: Take a moment to pause, sitting or standing, and close your eyes. Place a hand on your heart and one on your belly, and close the eyes. Simply breathe slowly and deeply. The key is to not change anything - not how you feel, not the details of what is going on for you in your world, not anyone else’s decisions or choices. Right now, you choose to be with what is.

Breathe deep and full and open up to the texture of the present moment. Now, even if it is wildly uncomfortable, speak out loud one nice thing about yourself. And then say it again. And again. Repeat it a few times out loud. When you speak loving language out loud, you imbue the present moment with gentility and cue your mind that more of that language is needed. You are soothing yourself in the way only you can.

Move: The second step is to put your feet on the floor and dance like mad. That’s right, put on a song and dance like no one is watching (or everyone if that feels more fun for you). We use movement of our physical body to bring our mental and emotional bodies into a place that better serves us. We go from suffering to celebratory in a matter of a few quickened heartbeats.

Dancing also releases dopamine and serotonin, making it much easier to feel energized and excited about the present moment. Faking it until you make it really works when it comes to changing your mental state via the body. When you are feeling lethargic, down, or sunk in your own emotions, do something to disrupt this mental pattern. Even if it is truly the last thing you want to do, and for the first minute the mind tells you how stupid and childish it all is, commit to doing it. After the song ends, pause. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths, right as you are, and simply notice how you feel.

Breathe: The third tool in this holiday arsenal — which is available anytime of year — is an intentional breath practice. One that supports the parasympathetic nervous system by concentrating on an elongated exhale. When we are feeling upset, angry, anxious, or any other emotion that causes us suffering, it is very likely that we are constricting the breath or breathing shallow. This practice takes us out of the mind and into pure unity with the present moment through the breath.

Find a comfortable seated position and set a timer for three minutes. For those three minutes, count as follows: breathe in for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of 16, exhale for a count of eight. Repeat this breathing pattern over and over again until the timer goes off. Once it sounds, pause for a moment before moving and notice without judgement how you feel. If you have the time, you can choose to do this practice again or for a longer amount of time.

Pause to feel, move, and breathe so that even when you’ve heard Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” 10,000 times too many, you can come back to balance. A simple reminder from within that you possess all the tools you need to support your highest, thriving, most unique existence.

Happiness and Joy Multiplied Through Loving-Kindness

By: Linda Souders, Journey Meditation Teacher

The simple practice of Loving-Kindness has come to be one of the easiest and most powerful ways to bring happiness to others, thereby multiplying my own. The brief act of sending out well wishes to all by silently communicating a sentiment such as, “May I be happy and free. May he/she be happy and free. May all beings be happy and free” is a practice I can do anytime, anywhere.

First beginning with myself, to know and embody happiness and freedom, I can then share that with others. So, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, a simple, “May I be happy and free” is a quick act of self-care which immediately shifts me into a calmer state, feeling more supported.

Then I send out the same to all others. Sometimes just walking down the street and seeing someone who appears to be distraught activates a quick Loving-Kindness response, “May he be happy and free.” It’s a way to support him. Or when my child goes away to sleepover camp, I find myself wishing, “May she be happy and free.” I immediately feel more ease and joy. Hearing the news of the day, I can silently wish all those in the world at large, “May they be happy and free.” It’s a way I can contribute positively to any situation.

Not surprisingly, studies have shown compassion - concern for the suffering of others - is a key ingredient to our positive health and well-being. Loving-Kindness meditation was found to decrease the anxiety and depression associated with self-focus by getting us out of our heads. Shifting our point of view to include others, and then opening our mind and heart by practicing Loving-Kindness is a simple, easy way to create connection, improve the way we relate to others, and ultimately increase our own positive feelings.

The bottom line? Practicing Loving-Kindness by focusing on and connecting more to others increases positive feelings in me. This practice has an immediate and positive effect. As I wish others happiness, my own happiness and joy are multiplied.

Self-Compassion as a Key to Meaningful Work Culture

By: David Hart, Journey Meditation Teacher

Mindfulness without compassion is like a rowboat with one oar—woozily circling. Meditation allows us to see clearly our experience, (and what we’re adding to our experience). With that clarity, we have the chance to make healthier decisions that can benefit ourselves and others.

In the workplace, it allows us to bring a determined heartfulness to better care for ourselves and our coworkers. That care extends to an interest in how our businesses show up in the world. Regardless of your field, if you can’t empathize with your clients or customers, you can’t build solutions to solve the challenges they have. Similarly, building a successful team over the long-term requires a commitment to courageous compassion.

Compassion is all about noticing what’s happening and showing up appropriately to meet the needs of the moment. The Golden State Warriors famously pointed to mindfulness as a key to their championship runs, but also emphasized joy, competition, and compassion as their core beliefs.

In the business world, c-suite executives are starting to catch on. The Harvard Business Review pointed to a survey of over 1,000 executives, in which “91% said compassion is very important for leadership, and 80% would like to enhance their compassion but do not know how.”

So what practices and habits can help develop that other oar of compassion? As with most mindfulness practices, start with yourself.

  • A stand-alone daily practice can be as simple as the 5-minute self-compassion break created by researcher Kristen Neff, which guides participants through imagining a stressful moment, attuning to the experience, and developing the capacity to build self-support.

  • For longer durations, try a R.A.I.N. practice, which cultivates the ability to recognize a difficult experience, allow for a pause, investigate with kindness, and rest in natural awareness.

I’ve found that leaving a few minutes at the end of my meditation to reflect on compassion or gratitude has helped me to deal with stress, difficult emotions, and challenges within my daily life. It’s also why we end the Journey Meditation practice with a period for mindful appreciation. As a New Yorker, it’s intuitive for me to jump up and rush to the next thing, so a pause for compassion helps me stay aligned with my values and intentions. And that determination helps me bring clarity and purpose to my work.

3 Ways To Stop Negative Self-Talk

Often, we find ourselves holding back from saying certain things to people, but when it comes to our own inner dialogue -- we have no filter. Think back to a time where you were feeling down even though you knew you were being too hard on yourself. Fortunately, by paying attention to our inner dialogue, we can free ourselves from self-doubt and become more comfortable with who we are. Here are 3 ways to stop negative self-talk:

Become Aware of Negative Thoughts

The first step in silencing negative self-talk is to become aware of the problem in the first place. In this case, it means being aware of any time a negative thought enters your mind. Meditation is a powerful tool to help you become aware of your different thought patterns.

Accept That You’re Already Good Enough

As much as we’d all like to believe it, no one’s perfect -- and that’s okay. Everyone has their strengths and everyone has their weaknesses. The important part is to use your own strengths and realize there’s no shame in asking for help where you need it. Sometimes, this is easier said than done, and we end up being too hard on ourselves. Next time you catch your mind drifting into negativity, replace the thought with a positive affirmation, such as, “I am enough.”

Show Self-Compassion

This final piece of advice is important to remember, especially when you make a mistake. Think of this as being a better friend to yourself. If a friend made a mistake, how would you console them and help them move past it? You wouldn’t make them feel worse about it, so why do that to yourself? Try applying the advice you’d give to your own life.

The next time negative thoughts enter your mind, remember that there’s always a silver lining. While it may take some adjustment, you can “rewire” your mind with intentional practice, and over time it will become a paradise for positivity.

How To Be More Mindful Of Your Communication

Think back to the last time you had a conversation with someone and it truly felt like the other person was giving you 100% of their attention. It feels good, right? You probably opened up more and felt a better connection with the person. For some people, this comes more naturally, while others have to be intentional about mastering the art of mindful communication.

Here are 4 tips to help you engage in meaningful conversation:

Remove Distractions

Do your best to be fully present in the conversation. If you let your mind wander, this distraction can make it difficult to connect with other people and engage in mindful conversation. Activities that cause your mind to wander often require you to break eye contact with the person you’re talking to. Next time, try putting any distractions away before you begin a conversation, whether it’s closing your laptop or tucking your phone away.

Listen Before You Speak

Remember that mindful communication is a two-way street. Even if it seems like you just need to get something off your chest, it’s important to remember the other person has feelings too. For instance, what if it turns out they have a pressing issue they need to tell you about? Unless you begin by listening, it can be difficult to pick up on these subtle cues. Try to notice when your mind wanders and shift your focus to the very next word they say. This way, you can respond with a thoughtful answer.

Express Empathy

Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Since it’s easy to get caught up in our own busy lives, it’s important to take a step back and see things from someone else’s perspective. Try not to judge what the other person is saying and instead try to understand why they are saying it. Remember, there is often no right and wrong answer, and everyone has a unique perspective.

Make It About Them

When someone tells us something about their lives, it can be a gut reaction to respond with a personal anecdote or your own feelings about the topic. Instead, try keeping the focus on the other person and ask them to elaborate further so you can better understand. This way, you can get to the heart of what’s really on their mind. See if the person you’re speaking to starts to open up more. They will appreciate the subtle gesture because they will feel like someone understands and wants to help them.

With daily intention, these 4 tips will help you become a mindful communicator. Watch as your conversations become more engaging and meaningful, whether it’s your life partner, a colleague, or your children. You may find yourself feeling closer to these people than ever before.

How Mindful Communication Inspires A Successful Workplace

Have you ever caught yourself wanting to say something, but weren’t sure if it was the right time or place to say it? As a leader, you need to be extra mindful in your communication because it sets the tone and can affect the team’s success. There are 3 questions you can ask yourself to help determine if you should say what's on your mind:

  1. Is it based on fact or feeling?

  2. Will this make the situation better or worse?

  3. Am I showing compassion?

Fact Or Feeling

The first thing you should ask is if your motivation for wanting to say something is being led by fact or feeling. Do the facts agree with your opinion or are you being driven by your emotions? If it’s the latter, you may want to take a step back, breathe, and assess the situation.

Better Or Worse

The next question to ask yourself is, “Do I really need to say this?” To help determine if your thought will make the situation better or worse, consider things like:

  • Is it productive and going to help move the situation forward?

  • Is this information vital to the person’s/team’s achievement of a specific goal?

  • Will there be severe consequences if I don’t say this now?

Mindful communication is about remembering that it’s a two-way street. If you find yourself saying something because it makes you feel better, but it hurts someone else, you may want to hold back. Take a moment to consider if what you’re saying is productive to everyone involved.

Show Compassion

The final thing to consider is, “Am I showing compassion for the person I’m speaking to?” Try putting yourself in their shoes for a moment and consider the events leading up to the situation. By taking this extra step, you may notice something that you didn’t originally catch and it could affect your answers to the previous two questions.

This method for mindful communication can be implemented at any level of your organization (and even beyond your company’s borders). As people around you become more mindful of one another, you’ll feel a stronger sense of camaraderie with the people you see every day. It all starts with your leadership.

Spark Your Team’s Creativity With Mindfulness

Companies and their teams face growing pressures every day to “think outside the box”. Often this involves trying to “do more with less”, whether it’s less resources, less direction, or less data. It could also mean tending to an increasing number of stakeholders, more competition, or entering uncharted territory. Simple mindfulness exercises can have a profound effect on your team’s ability to grow with these evolving challenges.

Creativity Spurs Innovation

Creative problem solving is at the root of all innovation -- which is why more and more companies, like Google and Viacom, are implementing mindfulness in the workplace. Studies have shown that even just 10 to 12 minutes of meditation can increase your creativity.

Specifically, mindfulness practice enhances 3 important skills that benefit your creative problem-solving abilities:

  1. Opens your mind to generate novel ideas

  2. Increases attention and reception to new ideas

  3. Inspires courage and resilience in times of doubts and setbacks

When you bring mindfulness practice to a team setting, members will experience a free flow of ideas and collaboration. You can read more about team-based mindfulness exercises here.

Set the Stage for Collaboration

Building open concept workspaces is only one component for improving collaboration and creative brainstorming in the office. However, the most important component is you -- the team leader. A mindful leader who knows how to properly facilitate group problem-solving sessions will help your team tap into new levels of creativity.

How to Be A Mindful Leader

“The new leader is a facilitator, not an order giver.”

- John Naisbitt

It’s important for team leaders to rethink their roles in group settings. Mindful leaders recognize their role is to foster collaboration among the team, rather than making decisions about the direction of the project.

"The facilitator's job is to support everyone to do their best thinking. To do this, the facilitator encourages full participation, promotes mutual understanding, and cultivates shared responsibility."

- Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making

This mindset is a complete shift in perspective that will help you and other team leaders fully tap into a team’s wealth of creativity.

Embrace Your New Role

Leadership styles vary from person to person. Some of us are actively involved in every decision, while others take a more hands-off, laissez-faire approach. Depending on your preferred style, embracing the role of the facilitator will be different for everyone. For some, it will come naturally, while others will need to make an intentional effort to take a step back as the decision maker.

The good news is your team will begin emerging with new ideas, perspectives, and workflows as you grow into your role as the facilitator. A greater sense of trust often develops when leaders become facilitators. By taking a step back, you are placing your confidence and trust in your team. This unspoken gesture will surely be noticed by your team.

Teach Yourself Resilience With These 5 Daily Exercises

Do you know someone who always seems to bounce back from adversity without a scratch? While they may seem like a superhuman, it turns out anyone can learn this skill with intentional practice. We asked our mindfulness community for the answers -- welcoming contributions from Gisela Andras (Psychology, MBA Student), Diana Zapata (Photographer), and Erin Houston (CEO and Co-Founder of Wearwell).

Nurture Relationships

Connecting regularly is a great way for building relationships. Gisela says, “this goes beyond just actively keeping in touch, a lot of the magic is in actively keeping them in [your] heart, integrating them into [your] daily life and daily practices.”

For Diana “it’s important to have a balance between how much talking you do and how much listening as well.” This way you “nurture those relationships and it also gives perspective when you might feel like you’re the only one suffering through difficulties.” Of course, we can’t forget that “it’s a two-way street!” Erin reminds us that it’s important to “support those same people whenever they need it most.”

Find Meaning In Failure

As Diana puts it, “focusing on what’s lost is the best way to stay stuck. A setback or a challenge is just an opportunity for growth.” Erin adds, “if you fail at something, find meaning in learning how you missed the mark. If you face a setback you didn't expect, find another way to accomplish what you set out to do.”

While it can be easy to feel defeated, there are some tools at your disposal. In stressful moments, Erin repeats a simple mantra, “it's only a matter of resiliency and time before I'll be on the other side of it.” Gisela uses meditation as “an incredibly powerful tool to gain a healthy distance from [her] immediate emotions... and reassess the situation.”

Embrace Change

In Diana’s words, “the challenge is always to accept that these plans might (and most likely will) derail, but the opportunity here is to be able to adapt and adjust.” Erin says, “it's a lot easier to roll with the punches and hurdles that come up,” when you understand your bigger life purpose.

Practice Optimism

“Remind yourself that we are in constant fluctuations, it is normal to feel defeated sometimes, but getting back up is also part of the process,” suggests Diana. If you find yourself feeling pessimistic, Gisela recommends to “focus on the present moment and slow down your breathing,” so you can see things in perspective. A visual cue or reminder can also be a good reminder to stay inspired. Erin has the words, “Gratitude attracts more reasons to be grateful" framed on her bedside table.”

Be Decisive

“There will always be a ‘what if’ but it is never important because it is non-existent,” says Diana. Erin reminds us, “you can't change the past, but you can adjust and course-correct in the future.” If you have a big life decision, take a night to sleep on it. If you still feel the same way in the morning, stick to that choice and run with it.

If you still find your mind racing, Gisela always comes back to her meditation practice. “It gives me a tool to shed all those layers, find my inner voice and have the strength to listen.” For further reading, check out 4 Ways to Manage A Restless Mind.

Is Meditation the Key to A Resilient Workforce?

Do you ever feel like part of you is always thinking about work? If you’re feeling this way, there’s a good chance your team is too. That’s why it’s important to develop the proper skills so you and your team can manage stress in a healthy way.

Lead The Way

Teaching your team resilience can go a long way when it comes to managing stress on a team and individual level. The development of these four skills can help a person learn to be more resilient in the face of adversity:

  • Optimism: Find the silver lining solution in unfavorable situations or difficult times

  • Composure: The ability to stay balanced and manage strong or difficult emotions

  • Safety: Provide a sense of security and “non-judgement” atmosphere

  • Support: Give your team support outlets (personally or refer to professionals)

Once you and your team develop these skills and become more resilient, it will become even easier over time to keep “getting back on the horse.”

The Value Of Failure

Don’t be afraid to let your team fail and find things out for themselves. A healthy amount of failure when the consequences are not life-threatening will help build resilience. As Winston Churchill puts it, “Success is not final; Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

There’s no greater service you can do for a person than to teach them the skills that will help them remain resilient through the highs and lows of life. Remember, the important lesson here isn’t to create an environment where your team won’t face adversity. The point is to teach your team the proper skills to be resilient and rise to the occasion.

How to Clear Your Mind and Fuel Your Creativity

Have you ever had an “aha!” moment when you least expected it? Maybe you were in the shower, on a run, or simply drinking your morning coffee when suddenly... the answer became clear. There’s a reason why these breakthrough ideas strike at strange times and it’s most often when you have a clear mind.

In order to do your most creative work, you have to silence any anxious and stressful thoughts, especially if you have external pressure like pending deadlines. The good news is you can learn to distance these negative thoughts, while your creative mind goes to work.

To find out how others stay creative under stress, we reached out to:

  • Kevin Huynh, Partner at People & Company

  • Ramon Mortiz, Senior Associate at iProspect

  • David Li, Technician and Fulfillment Specialist at KeyMe

Here’s what they had to say about distancing anxious thoughts and letting your mind be creative:

Identify Anxious Thoughts

“What’s the first thing you do when you find your mind racing from anxiety and stress?”

Once you notice your mind start to race take a moment to pause and breathe. Try to assess the situation. Ramon suggests considering your “current situation, emotions, [and] thoughts,” by asking questions like:

  • How did I get to this point?

  • Why am I thinking this?

  • Where did this feeling come from?

You can also try writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Kevin finds “that putting [his] thoughts into words helps [him] reflect on what [he’s] feeling and why [he] feels that way.”

Put Things Into Perspective

“How do you silence these anxious and stressful thoughts?”

A common thread among the contributing influencers is to always put everything into perspective. For some, this means introspective reflection, while for others it means talking things out with a close friend.

Kevin says, “nothing silences stressful thoughts like talking them out with someone I trust. Often those discussions with my partner or business partner don't change the circumstances but they put seemingly overwhelming things into perspective.”

Priority Over Pressure

“When you have other tasks to complete, how do you focus on the task at hand rather than the building pressure?”

For Kevin, his “good days start with lists”. Especially when times get busy, Kevin proactively makes lists for each day of the week. However, we all know how easy a to-do list can quickly get out of hand.

This is why it’s important to focus on the present moment says David. He highlights the importance of tackling each task one-by-one even though it can feel “almost paralyzing to focus on whatever you may have on your plate at the moment.

Here are some best practices for writing your to-do list:

  • Include work-related and personal items

It’s important to make sure you complete all of your work. It’s even more important that you maintain good physical and mental health. Make time for yourself.

  • Identify urgent versus important items

This helps you determine which items need to be prioritized first, while others can wait until a more appropriate time. Focus on the urgent problems first.

You can read more about writing sensible to-do lists here.

Enjoy the Moment

“Do you have any exercises or habits or hobbies that help you clear your mind and prevent stress from wearing you down?”

Everyone has an activity, hobby, or something you enjoy doing. It’s important that you make time for yourself and these types of activities. For Kevin it’s cooking; he says, “cooking is rejuvenating. There's something about preparing, creating, and consuming food that makes me feel more like me.”

5 Questions to Help You Make Any Major Life Decision

Have you ever felt like the answer was right in front of you all along? When making a major life decision, it’s easy to overthink your options. All the “what-ifs” and “buts” can make it seem like there is no right decision -- it happens to the best of us.

Sometimes the best path forward is clearly defined, while other times it’s not. Fortunately, a proactive, mindful approach can help you see your options clearly to make the best choice moving forward.

A Process for Mindful Problem Solving

Before you make any major life decision, it’s important that you take a moment to slow things down. Breathe. It’s natural to feel emotionally charged when there is some sort of stake on the line. Don’t get caught up trying to uncover the “right” and “wrong” answers. You will naturally identify the best solution as you ask yourself these 5 questions:

1. What is your challenge?

The first step is to define the problem you are trying to solve. This is typically the major life decision you are trying to make. From choosing a field of study, career path, life partner, and more. You want to be crystal clear about what it is you are trying to solve.

Try asking yourself questions like:

  • What’s the challenge you are facing?

  • Why is this a challenge that must be addressed now?

  • What important details am I dealing with?

  • What do I want the outcome to be?

  • What bothers you about the problem?

  • What doesn’t bother you?

  • Who is involved?

  • Where does the problem occur?

  • When does it happen?

  • Why is it happening?

  • How does it happen?

  • How does it make you feel?

  • How do you react/respond?

Sometimes the problem you are facing will be very clear and already pre-defined. Other times the problem may be vague or require more effort to put it into words.

2. What are your possible outcomes?

Now it’s time to brainstorm all of the possible solutions to your challenge. It’s natural for our minds to focus on one “ideal solution”, but it’s important to let your mind search for multiple solutions. Think of this as an opportunity to brainstorm possible outcomes you may not have previously thought of.

To help you get started try thinking about solutions in terms of what it looks like you doing, feeling, and seeing. Focus both on what you do want to happen, as well as what you do not want to happen. Decide on your top 3 possible outcomes and keep these in mind.

3. What are your strategies to achieve these outcomes?

This is where you develop your ideas to craft a truly workable solution -- a plan you can implement to overcome your challenge. Try to think of as many strategies as you can for each of your 3 possible solutions from the previous step. These are actions you can take that will help you achieve a particular outcome. Remember, any idea is fair game at this point. Don’t criticize the merits of your ideas at this stage... we will get to that!

4. What are the consequences of your strategies?

In order to determine the best plan of action moving forward, consider the likelihood of success for each of your strategies from the previous step. Once you’ve done that, consider which of your outcomes from Question #2, has the most strategies that are likely to succeed. Of course, you’ll need to implement a specific strategy, but this is where you’ll have the best chances of success.

5. How can you implement this plan of action?

Now that you’ve arrived at a specific strategy to achieve a particular outcome, the final piece of the puzzle is to put it into action. Break your strategy down into a series of steps that take you from your current situation to your chosen outcome. By this point, you’ll have made a very intentional, mindful decision about the best course of action to overcome any challenge.

Why Peak Performance Requires a Strong Mind Body Connection

There are two types of exercise critical to reaching your peak performance in life: mental and physical. Physical exercise is organized, premeditated, focused physical movement that is intended to achieve a set of fitness goals. Common physical exercises include running, weight lifting, swimming, and yoga. With repetition, you get better over time.

Mental exercise is a bit more complicated. Your brain is active 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The brain is a super-powered processing machines constantly analyzing your external environment, while commanding your bodily functions. Your brain also regulates emotions, stores memories, and processes information both consciously and subconsciously. Just like physical activity, there is a distinction between brain activity and mental exercise.

Mental exercises are challenging. They require more cognitive power and eat up more energy. They are also the activities that make you smarter. Some examples include learning a new instrument, studying for a test, strategizing a new business model, and even reading for long periods of time.

Mutually Exclusive or Complementary?

What you may have noticed is that these examples of physical and mental exercise are not mutually exclusive. To play piano, you need to think about which notes to play and move your fingers and feet accordingly. To swim a proper breaststroke, you have to apply a learned technique to move efficiently and get better.

It is important to understand the difference between mental and physical exercise to understand an even more powerful type of exercise - the mind body connection.

The Mind Body Connection

Going as far back as ancient Greece, people believed that the mind and body were deeply intertwined. Medicine and sports were predicated on the idea that our bodies and minds depend on each other for peak performance. This notion was almost lost at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but has come back to popularity. Scientists in modern times have found again and again that the body and mind are a synchronized unit. For example, what separates Olympic athletes from recreational athletes is not their superior bodies; it’s actually their ability to make decisions on the fly, and command their muscles accordingly. Vice versa.

Here’s another example. Think back to the last time you were very hungry and trying to work. Not easy right? A body that’s properly fed, hydrated, and has stable glucose levels feeds a sharper, more focused, and calmer mind.

Though we do not yet fully understand the connectivity between the mind and body, it is a growing topic in a variety of fields from meditation to physiology to fitness. Peak performers, doctors and scientists all want to know how this relationship works. One thing is for sure. If you want to reach your peak performance in life, it’s critical to find a happy balance between mental and physical exercise.

3 Hacks for a More Mindful Workplace

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. When a work environment is chaotic or unenjoyable, our mind tends to wander. Whether you watch the clock or just daydream throughout the day, being present at work is possible, and we’re here to help you do it.

The top three hacks to building a more mindful workplace are:

Self Reflect for Deep Focus

Did you know that practicing mindfulness can actually increase your attention span? With increased self-awareness, you can be more intentional with your focus and mental clarity. The best part is you can practice mindfulness while you’re at work.

Pick a time of day (like after lunch) and take time to listen to how you’re feeling. Ask yourself:

  • How is my mind feeling?

  • How is my body feeling?

  • Do I feel stressed, busy, or tired?

By checking in with yourself, you are becoming self aware. When you do this regularly, your brain will begin to rewire itself to make stress and fatigue less painful. Once you acknowledge these feelings, you are able to work with more honesty and clarity.

Embrace Lunchtime Social Hour

For most of us, the office is a place of teamwork and collaboration. When you get along with your colleagues, your in-office experience improves alongside your work quality. Stress can hamper the ability to enjoy the company of others and communication, but being mindfully present with others can combat this. Spending time with others in the present moment has been proven time and time again to increase levels of serotonin -- one of the brain’s strongest feel-good and calming chemicals.

Lunch is a perfect time to let go of your focus on work and direct it to the people around you. Try having lunch with someone you like rather than eating alone. Make a conscious effort to really focus on someone’s lunch-time story, and engage in the conversation. When you get back to work, you’ll probably find it easier to focus since your brain will be in a more rejuvenated, relaxed state.

Mindfulness Loves Company

When you’re at lunch spending time with a friend, it’s more likely that they’ll notice the attention you’re paying to them. Not only does this make them feel good, but they’re more likely to open up to you and be kinder. This feeling is contagious because just as you returned to your desk feeling better, so do they. Both of you end up having more pleasant interactions with people. Over time, a friendlier work environment is created. It all starts with the simple act of paying mindful attention to others.

Building a mindful workplace doesn’t have to start from the top down. It can happen from the bottom up. You can do a lot to help yourself and others experience a calmer, more present work environment.

Tune Into Your Body For A Better Workout

Ever notice how you seem to find workout tips at every turn? Magazine articles at the checkout counter promise “5 ab exercises to get shredded”. Or the guy on the YouTube ad before your video has “the secret to weight loss in 30 days or less”. While each of these likely contain effective exercises, a good workout always starts with listening to your body.

How do you define a good workout?

For some it means burning lots of calories, while for others it’s all about lifting heavier weights, or running for a long time on the treadmill. At times, it can be hard to measure what counts as a good workout. Despite personal metrics there is one thing that’s the same for everyone. When you have a good workout, you feel great afterwards. To feel great after every workout and avoid getting lost in all the workout “information overload”, try listening to your body.

Tune Into Your Physical Self

Before you begin your workout take some time to sit or stand still. You can even do this laying down, which is a great option. Do a full body scan starting from the bottoms of your feet and make your way to the top of your head. Take your time, as the entire scan can take anywhere from one to three minutes.

Plan Your Workout Accordingly

After you’ve done your scan, you can choose which types of exercise would complement your body today. Maybe your shoulders are sore right now, but your core feels rested. In that case, you can make the workout about stretching your shoulders, loosening them up with some cardio, and focusing the hard exercises on your abs.

The Difference Between Good And Bad Pain

While you’re performing the hard exercises, you’ll likely experience a certain amount of pain. If you plan your workout by listening to your body, it’s probably good pain. Your heart will pound and your muscles will burn, but you’ll feel alive, strong, and vital while you workout. Bad pain is different. If you’re working out and feel sharp discomfort, or you’re finding it difficult to muster the energy to continue, then consider giving that muscle a break.

The key is to notice the difference and honor what your body is telling you. Although a good workout starts with the right mindset, it begins with awareness of your body. By choosing to listen, you are allowing yourself to become more self aware, cultivating a practice that will give you true lifelong fitness.

Shifting Gears From Work To Leisure

We are connected to our jobs more than ever before. Technology and smartphones have made us reachable 24/7. While this may be convenient for business, it’s important that our minds have a chance to relax and recharge. Here are some strategies people are using:

Protect Your Personal Time

How do you keep “work thoughts” from invading your personal time?

Victoria, Fashion Stylist: Meditation has been the biggest help when it comes to finding peace of mind. It taught me how to not fight the thoughts that are coming into my mind, but rather focus on breathing and let them go.

Judith, Program Coordinator: This is difficult at times, especially when there’s an intense period at work or when something gets under my skin. I find that I must be vigilant in observing my mind. When work thoughts occur during personal time, I have to make a conscious effort to create a boundary and refrain from engaging with the thinking. I compartmentalize the whole “folder” called work and I put it away.

Adam, Partner at Engage Media Group: It’s honestly the toughest thing to do, especially for those of us who don't work normal 9 to 5 jobs. You are responsible for so much that it’s almost always on my mind. Especially in today’s world where we are so connected with phones that a simple email or ad on Instagram can spark your mind to think work thoughts.

Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: “Work thoughts” typically arise after work hours when you have not prioritized and are unaware of what items you have left pending. At the end of each workday, I dedicate thirty minutes to weighing in on my priorities. Knowing exactly where I am on matters of importance allows me to set a plan of execution of the following day. This alleviates me of any anxiety that could arise over items I was unable to complete that day.

Keep Your Mind Off Work

What do you do when you find your mind wandering back to work? How do you silence these thoughts? Or do you give them attention?

Judith, Program Coordinator: First, I have be aware enough to catch it. Then, strong enough to be willing to reject it. Once that decision is made and the boundary is set, it takes some affirmative thought to put it away. Sometimes, I even have to breathe through the more pervasive “breakouts”. It’s not so much that I silence these thoughts per se, it’s that I refuse to put my attention on them and then they recede. Sometimes, if they are relentless, I do give them attention. At times, I have been able to assess my work issues with the most clarity during my personal time.

Adam, Partner at Engage Media Group: Most times it’s tossing the phone to the side and not picking it up. Another way is to spend time with some friends. Being social helps keep your mind off work since you are vibing and enjoying the moment.

Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: In basketball, the 5-second rule helps to promote a continuous play. How can this help stop your mind from wandering back to work? Easy, as soon as I find my mind being sucked back into work mode, I ask myself will this matter cause you to lose your job? Now is time to pass, dribble, or shoot. If I cannot make the call within 5 seconds, it’s a penalty; I must stop everything I am doing and attend to whatever matter has come to mind.

Christian, Direct-Response Copywriter: I just take a deep breath and try to stay focused in the moment. I don't give the thoughts much attention, especially if I can't do anything about them at that time.

Unwind To Switch Gears

Is there a specific activity, routine, habit, or ritual you do after work to switch gears into leisure mode?

Victoria, Fashion Stylist: Working out tremendously helps with switching gears! I also recommend working on a passion project that brings you joy.

Judith, Program Coordinator: When I am super stressed at work, a hot bath will help me to transition into my down time. It became a ritual of releasing any work-related stress.

Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are paired habitually. While some habits are debilitating, others can be lifesaving. I have a set playlist that I listen to everyday for an hour before the end of my work day. My mind has been conditioned to leave work at the end of my playlist. Since adopting this habit, I now leave work more pumped and eager to head home than ever before.

Christian, Direct-Response Copywriter: After work I get changed into comfortable clothing, help out with dinner, and eat some food. I'd then either read my Kindle, watch YouTube or watch Dragon's Den. This happens naturally as I’m often exhausted and ready to relax.

How to Live in Balance with Technology

There’s no denying that screens have become an integral part of life, whether it’s working from a laptop, scrolling on phones, or relaxing in front of the TV. A recent Nielsen audience report revealed the average person spends 10 hours a day looking at screens... almost two thirds of the time we’re awake!

Since technology is deeply rooted in our daily habits, it’s important to find time away from screens. Being intentional about your screen-free time will help you reconnect with physical experiences for a more mindful, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Practice Mind-Body Connection

Technology allows us to experience things without even having to be present. For instance, if you’re watching a comedy where there is a group of friends talking, you’re experiencing social engagement without actually being there. This is a vicarious experience that only occurs in the mind. If you were really out with a group of friends, the richness of the experience becomes much more fulfilling because your body and mind work best together.

Enjoy The Little Things In Life

It may sound cliche, but enjoying the small things in life is a great way to find inner peace. The smells, sounds, tastes, textures, and gestures enriches every experience. Standing, laughing, looking people in the eye, and really living in that moment are incredibly valuable. In the real world, your senses are given a necessary feast of stimuli that can’t be found through technology.

Manage Screen Time

Most electronic screens have significantly high levels of blue light. Blue light is high energy with a short wavelength, which means it scatters more easily than other colours of the spectrum. Why should you care? Overexposure to blue light makes it difficult for our eyes to focus and can leave the retina vulnerable to damage.

Tip: If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms, you can order blue light filtering glasses and download blue light reduction apps that make your screen appear more yellow.

Get A Good Night’s Rest

Blue light also increases alertness by suppressing the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. This is great early in the day, but that’s not the case when you’re trying to fall asleep. To fall asleep quicker, try swapping your dose of late night Netflix with a book, drawing, or another peaceful activity you enjoy.

Technology has its place in our lives, but like anything, it’s about finding a balance that works for you. If you feel like something is missing in your life, try swapping screen time for more real life experiences.