Staying Zen at Work: The 3 Things You Can Do to Bring Peace to Any Job
THANK GOD IT’S MONDAY!
Chances are, you probably don’t hear that very often. While we usually celebrate the end of the week, wouldn’t it be surprisingly different to look forward to Monday mornings? It could change your entire outlook for the rest of the week. Easier said than done? Not necessarily, it all depends on you.
Recently the Pew Research Center found that almost half (47%) of employed Americans say their job is just what they do for a living. If the sense of calm that you have after your morning meditation ends by the time you get to your workplace, chances are you are less than satisfied with your current position and most likely identify on some level with that 47%.
Considering that we spend more time at our jobs than we do with our loved ones, friends and on leisure activities, it’s important to find some measure of peace and fulfillment at work. And yes, there are deadlines to meet, co-workers to collaborate with, and supervisors to impress. Even with all of this, it would be great if we could end the day with the same feeling of tranquility we had before our work day began. During and after meditation, it’s much easier to feel a sense of joy and contentment after putting your focus on the present moment.
What we’ve learned is that it’s important to take the peaceful morning meditation with you, even (if not especially!) at work.
Here are the steps we’ve found helpful in staying “Zen” on the job:
First, ask yourself: Will this [insert work annoyance here] matter in a year, let alone next month? The answer is likely “no.” In as much, keep it pushin.’ Similar to a meditation practice when we train our minds to move thoughts aside as they arise, recognize that work annoyance and then move it aside as well. The key here is perspective and the understanding that we’re not going to let small things, which have little importance, take away our peace.
If that doesn’t work or you find yourself constantly moving the unimportant things out of the way to make room for joy, it’s time to dig deeper. What is it about your job that is causing dissatisfaction or anxiety? Is it one individual? The work environment? Your office space or the lack thereof? Perhaps, it’s all of the above! If you don’t identify the “what” of your concern or issue, you can’t begin to identify the “how” to change, reduce, or eliminate its negative impact on your day.
Try this — visualize yourself in your current job, happy and satisfied. Allow yourself a few minutes to imagine your interactions, the type of work you’re doing, and your general surroundings. Now ask yourself, in that visualization“What has changed?” Did your boss leave the company?! Did you get that promotion? Did you clear your desk of all the clutter and past due items gathering dust? Once you identify what or who has changed, you can begin to seek solutions to bring you closer to that vision. Our suggestion for uncovering what is wrong and how to fix it is to work this out while on the mat. “On the mat” for us alludes to a regular meditation practice, initiated each morning and/or at night, and at the same time to help build consistency.
You may be surprised what bubbles up to the surface once you consistently take that silent time for yourself. The goal is to feel empowered to act and uncover steps to improve your circumstance. With the clarity of mind and focus gained from sitting in silence, you can move forward with a clear sense of purpose and a plan to optimize your joy at work.
You may decide to stay, leave, change departments, request an out-of-state transfer to your company’s headquarters, or just spread out your paid time off over holidays and 3-day weekends to take a break from it all and make the most of the vacation you have available. There are a myriad of opportunities and options you’ll be able to see and execute once your mind is clear. And if you find that after all of these tips and advice you are still left restless at work, then I’m going to say what we’re not supposed to say — maybe it’s just time to leave.
This doesn’t mean storming out, telling your boss where to go, and leaving without any prospects, interviews lined up, references in place, an updated resume, etc. What I mean is, if you find the situation calls for it, take the next steps to find a job that brings more joy. I’m being practical here. For all of the mindfulness practices we try and put into place, sometimes it’s just time to go! Leaving an uncomfortable job to find another one that brings peace and joy to your day is worth the search. While finding a new job is not always the easiest thing to do, the benefit of acquiring a new one that brings (or at least doesn’t dissolve) your peace, is worth the effort.
Now imagine what your Monday could look like. You wake up, meditate, and leave the house calm. You are ready to make moves and excited to start your day. You take on the commute with peace and joy, and by the time you arrive at work, your good mood hasn’t changed.