Mindfulness or Mindlessness

By LeAnna J. Carey | Oct 19, 2012

Mindfulness or Mindlessness

The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus, centered on being condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.  My thoughts exactly, this is practice makes perfect gone bad; this analogy is about the loss of time and opportunity and that unpredictability has a place in keeping us mindful.  Unfortunately, many in the American workforce may actually relate to pushing a boulder uphill; according to Mercer's 2011 What's Working survey nearly "one in three (32%) US workers is seriously considering leaving his or her organization at the present time, up sharply from 23% in 2005. Meanwhile, another 21% are not looking to leave but view their employers unfavorably and have rock-bottom scores on key measures of engagement, a term that describes a combination of an employee’s loyalty, commitment and motivation."  Why is it that the feeling of being "stuck" strikes an uncomfortable cord? 

My guess is that being "stuck" is a consequence of mindlessness - the very opposite of openness to novelty or thinking about possibilities.  In this video, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer talks about mindfulness and noticing new things.  Her studies also indicate that mindfulness results in:

1.    Greater competence

2.    Health

3.    Longevity

4.    Positive affect

5.    Creativity

6.    Charisma

7.    Reduced burnout

Here is an exercise that teaches basic mindfulness medication from Harvard Health Publications:

  1. Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor.
  2. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.
  3. Once you've narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus.  Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas.
  4. Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad.  If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

The good news is that "flow" guru, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990) shared that mindfulness can be increased to foster positive experiences - including business.  Are you in the present, now? Right now? Good.  

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