A recent issue of Time Magazine had a feature image on the cover for mindfulness, calling it a revolution. You might be asking; why has it become so popular? You might even wonder; what is mindfulness, really? You may even want to know how you can develop it, or why would you want to.
Here are four definitions of mindfulness, all of them accurate.
1. Mindfulness is awareness.
2. Mindfulness is being more present – More embodied in the moment.
3. Mindfulness is calm, alert, presence with equanimity (Equanimity is being even-minded or non-judgmental).
4. In the book Full Catastrophe Living, the author Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgment.
To help clarify what mindfulness is, it can be useful to know what it’s not. It is not absent mindedness, mindlessness, or conceptualizing – Unless the latter is intentional and you’re aware of it. An example of non-mindfulness that most of us have experienced is driving down the freeway and suddenly realizing we haven’t noticed anything that we have passed in the last ten minutes. We were caught up in our head; someplace other than where we were.
If we were being mindful in this example we would have noticed the scenery as it went by. This is an example of mindfulness of sight, or seeing what’s there in the present moment without getting caught up in thought.
You can be mindful of many things including your body, anything perceived by your senses, and even your feelings and thoughts (when not carried away by them). For example, in the time you’ve been reading this article, have you had any sensory awareness of your body? Have you noticed feeling any pain, temperature, or pressure such as the chair against your back? If you had some awareness of any physical sensations, then you’ve had some mindfulness of the body. Regardless of whether you experienced any of these things before I mentioned them, there’s a good chance you noticed some of them as I pointed them out. At that moment you were mindful.
Take a moment right now and check in with your body; feel the pressure of the floor against your feet, and also the pressure of the chair against your back, if you are seated. Notice your eyes taking in these words, and observe your thinking as you read. There. That’s mindfulness of your body, seeing, and thoughts.
It’s now probably obvious to you that you have some mindfulness some of the time, but maybe you have it less often than would be beneficial to your greater wellbeing. In the busy modern world we are often caught up in our heads un-mindfully. One big reason that practicing being mindful, especially of the body, more of the time is that your nervous system calms down and you feel good – You have a felt-sense of greater wellbeing. Your body enjoys your mindful awareness.
You are probably seeing how practicing mindfulness can counter stress and anxiety. When we are anxious our nervous system is highly activated; we’re hyper-aroused. If we are mostly disconnected from the direct experience of our body we feel nervous, jittery, and frazzled, and we have a difficult time concentrating. We may even be numb to how our body feels. This is not uncommon. When we are stressed we may not even notice that our breathing is more shallow and rapid. We may go through most of the day in this state, and by the end of the day our nervous system flips from a frenetic-state to a state of severe exhaustion and fatigue.
On the other hand when we are connected to our body it is soothing to the nervous system and we are less likely to become hyper-aroused. When we do experience stress, if we’re mindful of how we’re feeling, we can choose to be present in the body and take a few deeper breaths. This regulates the nervous system to a state of greater calm and we experience wellbeing and greater resilience to additional stressors. By practicing mindfulness of the body in this way we can learn to consciously regulate our nervous system and over time we can settle into a pattern of alertness (high state) and relaxation / recuperation (low state). This is compared to the un-mindful states of high-anxiety and extreme fatigue.
You can now see more clearly the reasoning behind definition number three above. Mindfulness is Calm, Alert, Presence, with Equanimity. Calm and alert can seem contradictory until they are seen in this way – that of a well-regulated nervous system. An easy way to remember this definition is with the acronym C-A-P-E which uses the first letter of each of the key words; Calm, Alert, Presence, and Equanimity. In a sense this state of heightened mindfulness is a type of super-power; an inner one that positively impacts all areas of our life.
This is one example of mindfulness; that of the body, which you now see can increase our sense of wellbeing and over time our resilience to the stressors of modern life. Other benefits include acting with greater self-awareness, and non-reactivity.
You may be wondering; how does one go about increasing mindfulness? We do it by practicing. Now; how to practice? There’s formal meditation which is great, but it is not for everyone in the beginning. Another excellent way to get started is informal practice throughout the day.
To begin informal mindfulness practice, choose something as a trigger; as a reminder to practice. Using transitions works well for most people. Transitions are times you make changes throughout your day, such as going through doors, or switching tasks. Use these as a trigger or reminder to take a moment and notice what your body is sensing. For example, you walk out the door of your house; take a second and notice the temperature change on your skin, the brightness on your eyes, the smells – run through all your senses if you like. Practice this way consistently for a week or so and you’ll begin to be more in touch with your body, which will calm your nervous system, which feels great. Keep doing this and you will experience ever greater depths to being present in your body.
You will likely go through ten or more transitions every day that can be used as reminders to be more present. You can begin by setting the intention to use these as triggers to practice mindfulness ten times each day. Congratulations, you now have a mindfulness practice.
There are many reasons why this and related practices, like yoga are becoming popular. A big reason that mindfulness is so popular is that it’s greatly needed. As life gets more stressful for more people we are seeking natural ways to counter stress and enhance our wellbeing. By starting your practice you become a part of this really good revolution. Give it a try. All you have to lose is your stress!
Brad Maybury teaches mindfulness practices, helping clients connect more deeply with their body and gain greater calm, vitality, and wellness! Those with symptoms of anxiety, stress and trauma go from surviving to thriving.
Visit his site to learn more: http://www.traumarecoveryresources.com/newsletter
How Neurobics Can improve Your Memory
When you are trying to improve your overall well-being, it is just as important to focus on your mental fitness as well as your physical fitness. Most people have heard of aerobics. Aerobic exercise is a great way to boost your heart rate and burn a few extra calories while improving your heart health. But, have you ever heard of Neurobics? Neurobics is the science behind brain exercise.
Yes, you can exercise your mind and keep it just as fit as your body. But, it is not like your brain is going to do any jumping jacks or jogging any time soon, right? So, what can you do to keep it fit, and how does exercising your brain actually improve your memory?
Let’s dive a little deeper into how Neurobics actually works, and a few exercises you can try to boost your memory and overall brain health.
What Is Neurobics?
When you break Neurobics down, it stands for neurons + aerobics. Neurobic exercises increase the level of oxygen in your brain and “breathe life” into the neurons.
When those neurons are stronger and more stimulated, it improves your brain health – especially your memory. A good way to visualize how Neurobics actually helps is by picturing a piece of glass being blown into a decorative item. The glass maker has to stretch the piece when it is warm and malleable. But, once it is stretched out, it doesn’t spring back to where was before. It stays permanently in place.
Neurobics work the same way. By taking part in an activity or experience that taxes your brain, you are “stretching” the neurons. Once they are stretched, they don’t return to the shape that they were in before.
That is the point of Neurobics – to challenge your mind in different ways so that it gets stronger. If you are working out your body, doing the exact same exercise the same way each day, it would eventually cause your results to plateau. You have to switch things up to “confuse” your muscles and get them stronger. Working out your brain is just the same. With that in mind, let’s cover a few easy Neurobics exercises that you can start doing right away.
Change Your Habits
One of the easiest (and yet, most challenging) ways to get started with Neurobics is to step out of your daily comfort zone. Some habits can already be detrimental to your memory, and cutting them out of your life will make a difference.
When you stop old habits, you are actually using Neurobics to challenge your brain into different thinking patterns. Some ideas to consider include:
- Giving up (or at least cutting down) on television
- Quitting smoking/drinking alcohol
- Changing your eating habits
- Exercising more
When you stop doing some of the things that you have grown comfortable with, you require your brain to stretch, adapt and change. As a result, you will start thinking clearer, become more focused, and remember more things.
Do Something Different
Some Neurobic exercises are things that you can do in just a few minutes each day – the equivalent of doing 50 jumping jacks in a five-minute work break. Things like solving a crossword puzzle, writing in a journal or giving yourself a High Five in a mirror can all fire up the neurons in your brain. Even yoga and/or meditation can force you to push away the “cluttered” thoughts that are in your head and require you to focus on one particular thing.
The places you go and the experiences that you jump into can be considered as Neurobic activities. Anything that challenges your mind and causes you to think differently about something is a great way to stretch your brain.
These could include going to a museum, a zoo, a musical performance, or even different cultural festivals. Allowing yourself to be open to new ideas and experiences is one of the best ways to exercise your brain and improve your memory.
Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do.”
While one of the biggest benefits of Neurobics is improved memory, it is certainly not the only “perk” to this type of mental exercising. Neurobics can also help you to face your fears, live without regrets, and experience a fuller, more meaningful life.
They can give you the courage to take more chances and experience the rewards. They can turn you into a better leader. Most importantly, Neurobics can inspire you by changing the way you see the world around you.
If you are already passionate about your physical health, it could be time to start thinking about your mental fitness, too! Whether you want to improve your memory as you get older or just want to keep your mind as sharp as possible now, trying Neurobics is a great way to “stay in great mental shape”.
Use some of the exercises listed here to get started. You might be surprised by just how quickly your focus and memory will start to improve.
8 Great Ways To Reward Your Employees
Employee engagement is more than a current trend – it is something that more businesses across the globe are starting to value for plenty of good reasons. When employees feel happy and appreciated, they are more likely to be productive and loyal to your company.
While basic benefits packages are still important, it is now more important than ever to go above and beyond for the people working for you. Not only can great rewards help you to hire the best talent, but they will also make your business environment a positive one where people will actually enjoy coming to work and do their best.
The great part about rewarding your employees is that you can let your creativity shine. Think about practical, functional rewards that your employees will actually use and appreciate. Then, don’t be afraid to have some fun with your ideas.
Feeling stuck? Not sure where to get started? Let’s cover some great ways to reward your employees.
1. Make Your Gratitude Public
Sometimes, the simplest gestures can make the biggest difference. If you really want your employees to feel good, make sure everyone knows how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication.
So, thank them publicly. The next time you have a company meeting or public event, carve out some time to thank people individually. Giving them a few moments of attention in a public setting is a great way to show them how much that you appreciate them. After all, who doesn’t like to be complimented?
2. Give Time Off
A reward doesn’t have to be something tangible to be valuable. If your employees have been working hard, reward them with some extra time off. It could be a long weekend, a surprise vacation, or even just an afternoon off on a random Tuesday.
If you do decide to reward them with some free time, make sure you let them know how much you appreciate the work that they have been doing. That appreciation, along with getting a break from work, can help them to feel more motivated and productive when they return.
3. The Little Things Count
You don’t need to go overboard with flashy, expensive rewards. Sometimes, it’s the little things that mean the most. Plus, you will be able to give them more frequently.
Hand out things like gift cards to local coffee shops or movie theaters, or give them something practical like a travel mug or ergonomic desk chair. Small gestures can really mean a lot and your employees will remember and appreciate the gesture.
4. Build Community Through Food
Everyone has to eat, but not everyone likes spending money on their lunch or bringing a regular sandwich from home.
One of the easiest ways to reward your employees is to have lunch catered in as often as possible. Not only does it show them how much you appreciate their work, but when everyone eats lunch together, it will build a more positive work environment. Your business benefits all around.
You can take things one step further by making your catered lunches a scheduled event, whether you do it once a week, once a month, etc. It gives people something to look forward to and serves as a constant reminder of your appreciation.
5. Subscription Services
Subscription services have become more popular than ever in recent years. They really grew during the pandemic, when most people started spending more time at home.
Consider signing your employees up for a subscription service you think they would enjoy. Perhaps give them a list of magazines that they can choose from and give them a years subscription for a job well done.
6. Schedule Company-wide Activities
Host company parties, picnics, and other fun events as often as possible. Everyone deserves to have fun after working hard, and it is another great opportunity for your employees to get closer, a build a better bond. Company activities can also help to prevent burnout in the workplace.
Make sure to include certain events that can include employees’ family members so everyone can join in the fun and your workers don’t have to be away from their loved ones. Family picnics, movie nights, bowling tournaments, or even a catered dinner are all great ways to make sure everyone is involved.
7. Extra Responsibility
While more responsibilities might not seem like a “reward” at first, it is how you present it to an employee that makes a difference.
When you sit down to talk to an employee about increasing their responsibilities, make sure they know why. Talk about how much you trust them and their ability to make decisions on their own. Let them know their value as a part of the company, and you take their career goals as seriously as they do.
8. Give Them A High Five
Giving someone a high five should not be confined just to sports. You have probably seen the viral videos of a teacher giving their students a high five as they enter the classroom. You can feel the positivity, genuine excitement and the wonderful energy from these videos. Research has shown that the biggest difference in whether or not someone will enjoy their job and be more productive, is not the amount of vacation time or their salary package. It is when someone has a manager who cares, appreciates and trusts them and makes them feel that they matter. The next time someone hits a target, makes a sale or gives great customer service why not give them a well deserved high five and see how it makes them feel.
While your employees might not regularly expect rewards, that is half the fun of giving them. Boosting morale, no matter how big or small your business might be, will make a big difference in how productive your workers are. It will shape the environment of your entire company, and the best part? It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to reward people for a job well done. Get creative, get personal, and find unique ways to show your employees how much you appreciate them.
Are You Working For A Tyrant Boss? (And what you can do about it)
Multiple studies have indicated that a large percentage of people are unhappy with their jobs. Research carried out by Microsoft in 2021, showed that 41% of the workforce are considering leaving their employer. Sometimes, this dissatisfaction comes from working long hours. Other times, it is about not making enough money.
On occasion, however, the source of unhappiness is the person that you work for. Working for a tyrant boss is draining and stressful. It can have a negative impact on nearly every area of your life, because the stress that it causes makes it hard to “let go” of your workday even when you are at home.
So, how do you know if you are working for a tyrant boss? And if you are, what can you do about it?
A Boss That Is Never Wrong
You have heard of the phrase “the customer is always right,” but do you work for someone who never seems to think that you are ever right?
A tyrant in the workplace is often a dictator. This means that they don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion or ideas, and if they do, they are instantly shut down. A tyrant boss can “never be wrong,” and they have the final authority on everything.
Unfortunately, they are often the ones who will suffer in the end. No one is perfect, no matter how much your boss thinks that they are. If they do not take other people’s input into consideration, they are going to burn out and end up making poor choices, which will impact the business in the long run.
Help people reach their full potential, catch them doing something right. ― Ken Blanchard
They Expect Carbon Copies Of Themselves
Does your boss seem to gravitate toward employees who are just like them?
Narcissistic people tend to be kinder to those who have the same characteristics. The problem with that? It takes a diverse group of people with different skill sets to make a great team.
If your boss favors people just like them and expects everyone to conform to certain unreasonable expectations, you should see this as a huge red flag.
Additionally, pay attention to how your boss’ personality changes around certain people. If they tend to play favorites, it might be another sign that they are running a tyrannical operation. Everyone in a business should be treated equally. Favoritism doesn’t belong in a professional setting.
Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is a success. – Henry Ford
They Don’t Respect Your Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance has become an important topic of conversation over the last year. With more people working remotely, it has been harder for some to strike a healthy balance between their work life and their home life.
While, in many cases, you can find ways to manage this balance, some bosses simply won’t allow it.
For example, does your boss frequently call you on your day off? Do they email you or message you after working hours, or first thing in the morning?
If your boss cannot respect that you have a life and that you deserve some free time, they are running their business like a dictatorship. Good employers know how important it is for their employees to have free time, whether it is for self-care or socialization. When a worker constantly feels like they are “on the clock,” they are more likely to get burnt out quickly, and their performance will suffer.
They Are Master Micro-Managers
Does your boss lurk over you more often than not? Do you find it hard to get anything done in a day because they are micromanaging everything that you do?
Micro-managers want a play-by-play of everything that you are doing throughout the day. They will try to take charge of your projects and overlook everything so you can’t be as productive as you could be.
You can work to diffuse a micro-managing boss by giving them more information than they ask for. Beat them at their own game by giving them detailed information about what you are working on. If they feel like they are not able to be “on top” of you anymore, they will likely give up and let you work in peace.
Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people. – Steve Jobs
They Want All Of The Credit
Typically, when a business sees any kind of success, it is a good sign of a strong, dynamic team. One person cannot hold up an entire company on their own.
But, if your boss tends to take the credit for everything and loves being in the spotlight, it can often feel like your efforts are unnoticed and unappreciated. There are children’s books about people doing all the work and someone else taking all of the credit. Some adults just never seem to learn the “moral of the story”.
What Can You Do About It?
So, what can you do if you are working for a tyrant boss? Aside from resigning, which is sometimes the only option, there are a few ways that you can manage things on a daily basis.
First, try not to let your boss’ behavior affect you. Yes, they can be frustrating. They will get to you, at times. It is important for you to take the high road and be the bigger person. No matter where you work, everything that you do is a reflection of who you are – your personal brand. Don’t give in to your frustrations, and don’t fuel your boss’ attitude by snapping back at them. If you do, chances are, their behaviors will become even more exaggerated.
Your overall well-being should be your top priority. If you don’t see any signs of a changing environment, you don’t need to stay in a toxic workplace. Understand some of these signs, and trust your gut when it comes to how you should respond. Many of us have had bad experiences with tyrant bosses in the past, I know I have. In my experience, tyrant bosses very rarely change. They have either moved on or I have.
Life is too short to be stressed out by your boss. Thankfully there are plenty of great bosses out there too who will respect and value you and they are a real joy to work with.