In the midst of downsizing, recession, and the hectic rush to keep current at work, we often wonder, “Where is our call?” “Where can we find mental calm that brings meaning to what we do? How can we become who we want others to see in us?” “What would guide us through deeper questions and the desire for more meaning, that makes sense of the inner labyrinth of our thoughts, feeling and emotions?”
These questions point to our deep desire to live mindfully, and open possibilities for clarity and purpose at work.
See new ebook Extravagant Minds at Work, if you feel separated from inner freedom to enjoy and prosper from work you do. Avoid tripping into mindless traps that cause crippling fear and frustration. Or check out the Op-Ed column and hot discussion in today’s Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Based on my own life study of the neuro and cognitive sciences, whole brain thinking across multiple cultures, tactics learned when left to survive on Halifax streets alone at age 14, and on earning a Ph.D. in topics related to learning and leading with the brain in mind – I reached key conclusions that support proven tactics shared below. How so?
This blog’s really for all who seek encouragement and direction to tap their own and others’ brains. Hopefully those who fear entering new or uncharted paths of mindfulness will find useful approaches here to create all things new in life and work. Hopefully mindful-circle-ideas will also encourage those who already find some satisfaction from living mindfully. It will offer new entry points where work, passion and purpose come together for authentic new rewards.
As long as we have a general discontent about what we do, who we’ve become, or what holds us back, we’ll stay in the same place mentally and emotionally. New neuro research confirms that it takes doing to generate a different mindset, a fact that stands opposite what we were taught back in school. There we believed that to change we first need to shift our thoughts. No wonder we too often failed to make newness a reality.
In the busyness of our days, filled with mundane tasks to pay bills and keep the lights on, we over-packed our mental capacity to run us in mindless directions day after day. People describe us as busy, and yet deep inside we sense that gerbil-on-a-wheel-race is leading us around endless circles going nowhere. It doesn’t have to be that way, and the shift is easier than most think.
Keep it Simple Smart!
Picture an ordinary hula hoop on the floor in front of you. Imagine mindful discoveries inside that circle that would change your direction away from preoccupation with the past, or worries about the future. Mentally situate all the ruts you typically encounter as remaining outside the mindfulness circle. Then step mentally into this hula-hoop-sized-space and take another look at your situation from this circle’s advantages. Spend a few freeing moments in this reflective circle before you step back into life’s challenges or work’s demands.
Why is that first step into castles of your mind so critical?
Brain experts show how even a simple action will reconnect brain cells and reconfigure synapses within your brain, so that you literally change its formation. Ready to alter directions? The moves you make as you read this blog can leapfrog you past ruts that spin wheels where you work, and into new mindful discoveries.
Ready to take that one-minute-mind-move, into the freedom circle you’ve laid in front of your feet?
We call it the Mita-One-Minute-Mind-Move for a good reason. Each brain fact that resides in that circle of grace, takes only a minute or less to embrace in ways that shift your direction toward mindful possibilities.
Courage to Run Risks
Inside the circle, you’ll find brain equipment to take informed risks that move you into new position. For example dopamine, a pleasure releasing chemical, will fuel the kind of risk-taking needed to solve stubborn problems that engulf you from the outside. Simply step inside and you’ll be in position to cultivate strategies in one-minute-mind-moves that shift your preoccupation from impending doom to a dare that fulfills. This natural brain chemical motivates you to advance with a new mantra, while taking on Olympian-like challenges from within a calm place less connected to fear from setbacks. In the circle you find courage to capitalize on teachable moments just as Rodney King did when he asked for calm, rather than retaliation in LA riots back in 1992.
Let’s say you’re simply after either more enthusiasm for what you do. Or perhaps you’re hoping for a career change that gives you back that real inner freedom. The circle allows you to live more in the present, and trust in your decisions, rather than remain preoccupied with a tomorrow shaped by worries. It turns out that dysfunctional conditions such as boredom are merely habits formed in the brain. Do you see a life-changing possibility here? Since the peace and hope you crave is shaped by your choices rather than your reality, it’s simply a matter of disconnecting to the downslides, and connecting to a more fulfilling activity.
The circle sets you free to ask what-if questions the way Nelson Mandela did to help end apartheid in Africa. Or it helps you harness big ideas and engage people’s penchant for innovative solutions, the way Maya Angelou suggests in her poem, Still I Rise.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
The circle allows you reflective moments to step back and ask – What talent would contribute to my next move? It also allows you to spot a barrier, such as restlessness, that prevents innovative directions from where you stand.
Get Out and Stay Out
I chose Henry James’ words to launch our journey, because of his notion that happiness comes from getting out of one’s self, and yet to stay out you need some absorbing errand. Why so?
Fear too often crowds us back into self in ways that cripple our chances at finding freedom. We parcel out our worries into daily blocks of actions that prevent the joy and purpose that comes with mindfulness. Fear may motivate us to work harder, but peace and purpose arm us against harmful stressors, and equip us to work smarter. This blog will win big for you when you live and work without stressors in ways that unleash more mindful life and work opportunities.
My desire to offer practical suggestions, and clarify new neuro discoveries that offer ways to make all things new, motivated the ebook, Extravagant Minds at Work. I divided the clarification into four sections. In the first section, you’ll see how to move beyond fear into mindfulness that adds purpose and passion to all you do in life and at work. In the second section you’ll discover why and how extravagant minds serve to win more.
You’ll find practical ways that giving not only enhances work but also increases productivity. In the third section, you’ll discover new approaches to extravagant jobs. In spite of recession problems or other setbacks that grip us on a daily basis, you’ll be guided to launch practices that stack your deck and open mind-bending opportunities to recreate life and work.
Let’s step beyond the paralysis that so many face. In section four, walk into mindful communities at work and in universities that risk an existence beyond discontent and boring traditions.
The mindful life only becomes real when lived in the midst of current struggles or set backs on any day. That’s why proven tools – like the Mita-one minute-mind-move get you started at the very place you stand today. Let’s begin with a careful look at what causes discontentment for you and what can bring life-changing rejuvenation, regardless of challenges you face.
Focus for Surprising Solutions
Your environment counts, which is why we see mindful circles yield healthier responses to problems. Step into that hula-hoop-sized circle we discussed earlier and connect mentally to all that underlies fulfillment. Stand in that quiet and thoughtful place where you can expect to reach new targets within the day, week, month and year.
Inside a calm, well lit, welcoming worry-free atmosphere, innovation presents itself at new peaks. There, the brain more easily activates your working memory which equips you with focus and purpose to make a real difference in your life and work. The brain is more effective – when working memory actively increases the joy that comes from novelty, for instance.
You can also change what the circle looks like for friends, peers or family. You might consider a change in venue for your next meeting, for instance. One leader we work with simply projected a T-chart onto the screen and encouraged mindful participation. On left – he listed their suggested 5 barriers to the company’s next innovative big idea. He then listed suggested alternatives on the right side of the T-chart. Solutions, rather than complaints soon followed, because he set a mindful stage and people pair-share to offer doable strategies. Their suggestions led change, inspired creative, invoked buy-in, and lowered the barriers to the organization’s upcoming project. Sound like this circle will raise their bottom line?
One leader we worked with complained of much material to cover in too little training time.
From within the circle, he found ways to combine hard and soft skills to solve problems raised at meetings. Using a few different venues he engaged people actively in robust responses to problems.
Some created notes on a blog. Others interacted through a list-serve. And a few exchanged ideas ahead of meetings. In the circle, he learned to use smart skills (which combine of hard and soft skills). He then invited workers to use similar tools to help cover training materials through innovative practices they invented. It worked.
Communicate to Encourage
Dissatisfaction is often linked to resentment from feelings of not being valued. We feel used, manipulated and exploited, and these feelings rob the satisfaction that comes through trust. It’s often a matter of changing to engage.
Certainly, it helps to have people feel they can speak and feel heard. But what about the folks who use fewer words? Flexible circles might shift to visuals and thereby capitalize on a less outspoken person’s spatial intelligence.
Mindful circles increase serotonin chemical which build goodwill even among those who disagree. Watch co-workers who access this circle-driven-brain-chemical to move individuals and groups beyond conflicts into creation and productivity.
Brilliant circles tend to flow from pools outside of arrogance, disagreements or one-up-ship. So it makes sense that we revolutionize a circle by inviting and speaking serotonin-laden solutions. There’s more too. In encouraging circles, we build new neuron pathways toward change that benefits all. Encouragement literally changes the chemistry of human brains through raised serotonin.
Mindful circles generate tone tactics to disagree in ways that build goodwill. How so? Affirm another’s thoughts before sharing yours. Or thank people for different ideas. Share personal experiences respectfully as another angle to consider. Ask what-if questions that draw in others rather than add your opinions too soon. Toss unique ideas into the mix with humility and confidence that comes with offering concrete examples, and hearing others’ views.
Moving Back into the Circle
If you find yourself disengaged, discouraged, cynical, disappointed, or desperately worried, you’re likely standing outside this hula-hoop-sized-circle. While there, you are separated from the inner freedom you need to avoid impending doom by fears or frustrations you face. Repeatedly you’ll trip into mindless traps that cause fear and frustration.
I like to leave behind those familiar practices that seem too predictable to be potent. You may also run from stuck-in-the-rut routines that make you too fearful to try a new approach. It’s that basal ganglia that shouts daily for these, and the shout is far louder outside your circle. It’s main purpose to the mindful, is that it reminds you to step back again and reflect on where you are headed.
An amygdala can overheat on the outside of the circle, and that sign too should serve as a reminder to take the Mita-one-minute-mind-move before you snipe back. Step back into the circle to plug the leaks that allow in cortisol to poison results with amazing frequency.
Stressed brains, research informs us, rely more on boring habits, and its such ruts that abandon stressed folks outside the very place they could find help. Since about 75% of modern workers claim to dislike their jobs, we know that stress factors into many dissatisfied staff standing on the other side of wellness circles.
So how do people rewire their brains past the ruts and rigid routines with the kind of focus that sparks innovation and adds new curiosity? Simply take the plunge to step into a circle that empowers you to run forward again, regardless of age, seniority or background.
To step into the circle is to find freedom to speak and feel heard, even when others disagree.
What Would it Take to Stand In More Than Out?
Would finer circles come if you recognized toxins that add to depression and detract from work?
Would freedom in your circle mean moving multiple intelligences into action and launching a novel project?
Or would your circle require your decision to avoid a cynic who excludes top talents for the sake of self-seeking.
How will you first step into the circle that equips for mindfulness to move forward without past baggage? Worth the choice?
Expect fewer tough times, in spite of daily stressors we all encounter. Look forward to finding new ways to inspire discouraged workers – all because of your one-minute-mind-move.