Character · Coaching and Managing · Inspiration · Leadership · legacy · Living

A Life of Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness may bring about thoughts of Buddhist monks, mastering the practice or meditation on a journey to enlightenment and wisdom.  Perhaps the old monk at the top of the mountain, meditating on the meaning of life comes to mind.  Focusing on a single thought or idea, as we empty out of minds of extraneous noise.  This pure focus bringing about higher states of consciousness.  And in it’s true form, meditation will facilitate this. 

We don’t need to be Zen masters in life.  We don’t need to have such focus on this very moment and action, that everything else is shed and discarded.  In reality, we all have aspects of life following us around.  How can we have some single-minded focus when we have work, families, or things that we need to get done?  I have to pay the mortgage, or work on a project at work that may cause my mind to work when I should be doing something else.  Mindfulness is something we all can benefit from, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to assume the lotus position and meditate for hours on end.  Mindfulness can also be something you carry through your life and career in how you carry yourself in your daily actions.  Being aware of your thoughts, actions, and words will enable you to take any situation and come away with the best results. 

Be Mindful of your Thoughts

In a sense, we are our thoughts.  Everything starts with our thought patterns.  If you go through your career and life full of negativity and poisonous thoughts, it will only serve to make things difficult.  It can ruin relationships, or sabotage your career.  Do you look at the negatives in people and life?  Do you look at others as competition or roadblocks to your success?  Do you look at people as tools to use for your own gains?  Or do you look at people as unique and able to contribute something positive to your life?  Do you see the goodness in everyone, even those you may not think highly of?

Our thoughts lay the foundation for who we are, and how we act.  Try to take some time to empathize with their upbringing, race, or gender.  Be mindful of your thoughts and when you find yourself straying into the negatives, force yourself to break this train of thought and consciously take a moment to look for something positive.  Yes, not everyone is likeable or respectable, and they are responsible for their own actions, but don’t delve into poisonous thoughts, as it will filter into your actions and words. 

In your career, always look at things as opportunities to learn and grow.  Maybe the market is off, or maybe the management is self-serving or not of high quality, but in the end, you are responsible for your own thoughts.  You can choose to be positive or negative, and your actions and successes will change.  See something that needs to be improved, are you working to be able to address it, or to be able to provide solutions?  Everything begins with your thought patterns.  Be mindful of this, and you’ll catch yourself before you fall into negative patterns of thought.

Be Mindful of your Actions

We’ve all had situations where we acted in a situation, and later regretted it.  I can think of a few for me, and I can still shudder with regret.  Part of living is to be in new situations where we don’t know what to do, and we do not always make the best choice.  We may not be it right the first time, but  we learn and control our actions.,… Over time, as we mature and grow wiser, we can find similar situations, and respond in a more favorable way.

Always be mindful of your actions.  There will be times when we’re not happy or may be a victim of a situation, but be sure to take a breath before acting.  Count to three or however long it may require.  There’s nothing wrong with taking a long break to get your mind ready.  Recently, I watched a video of Steve Jobs.  This was early in his return back to Apple, and was on stage for a Q & A.  One of the people in the room was highly critical of one of their recent software decision.  Instead of immediately lashing out or trying to move on to a different question, Jobs took about 30 to 45 seconds to get ready for a response.  He walked back to a stool up on the stage, took a moment to get a drink of water, and actually sat in contemplation for a few moments.  As I was wondering if he would just not answer it, he went into a well thought response.  Instead of calling the individual a name, he answered the question.  He was mindful of his actions, and through doing so, answered the question.  More importantly, this moment has endured for many years as a way to handle a negative situation.  I’m sure the person asking the question left the room regretting his aggressive delivery. 

Actions will always speak louder than your words or thoughts.  All the talk in the world won’t matter if your actions say something else. 

Be Mindful of your Words

Words can build relationships in life and work.  Words can bolster other people’s confidence, and can also undermine everything.  Are you critical of others when you speak with others?  At the office, do you participate in gossip or actively speak against others?  Do you build, or do you destroy?

If you don’t have anything positive or constructive to say, take a moment to think about whether or not you should say it.  Yes, this is a cliché, but it’s also true.  If you’re seen as someone who is always spewing out negative things about others, or always complaining about things, do you think others will want to communicate much with you?  Yes, there are people engaging in devious activities, and things will never be perfect, but if you’re contributing to conversations that have no positivity, perhaps asking others to stop or removing yourself from the situation would be prudent.

Positive words will always carry more weight, and will always create more genuine relationships.  In your career, being positive in your communication to coworkers, management, and customers will only foster stronger relationships, which will create more opportunities down the road.

The Mindful Life

Through the combination of mindful thoughts, actions, and words, you can create stronger relationships, cultivate higher respect from others, and can lead to more opportunities in your career.  It doesn’t take a massive shift in lifestyle.  It only requires more focus and attention.  For those who are constantly thinking ill of others, or default to negative tendencies, it’s more challenging.  Being mindful doesn’t require mastering meditation techniques, changes of religion, or moving into a different area.  It only requires some conscious thought, and when you catch yourself heading into negativity, a quick pause or a few moments of calming thoughts is all you need. 

Be mindful, and be a catalyst of positive change.

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