At Bridgewater Associates ($160 billion in assets under management) founder Ray Dalio encourages the practice among his employees. “It’s the greatest gift I could give anyone,” he says, “it brings about equanimity, creativity, and peace.” Dalio also considers meditation to be the “single most important reason” for his own success in building the biggest hedge fund in the world.
At Salesforce.com ($8.4 billion in annual revenue) founder Marc Benioff installed meditation rooms all over the company’s new offices.
Peter Cooper, founder of Cooper Investors, relies on meditation practice for his decision-making. “Being an investor requires the distillation of large volumes of information into a few relevant insights,” he says, “Meditation has helped me discard interesting but unnecessary information and focus on the few things that make a difference to long-run investment performance.”
At insurance provider Aetna, a meditation program for employees has been credited with improving productivity by 62 minutes per employee per week, which Aetna values at $3,000 per employee per year.
For more information, read:
In this order:
- healthy eating
- a substantial daily meditation practice
When those two habits are firmly in place, good quality sleep and healthy exercise happen almost automatically.
Peter Bostelmann, an industrial engineer at Europe’s software giant SAP, discovered meditation during a personal crisis a decade ago, writes Emma Thomasson at Reuters.
The impact was so profound that he persuaded his employer to start a pilot mindfulness training in 2013.
“It’s the new jogging,” says Bostelmann, who now runs a global mindfulness program at SAP. “Employees are more healthy and more engaged and they can cope better with a changing world.”
Now SAP is rolling out mindfulness training to all 22,000 German staff and offering consulting services to other firms. It teaches them to pay attention to the present moment, and tune in to thoughts, feelings and surroundings.
Of SAP’s 91,000 employees, 6,500 have participated in a two-day program, including several top executives.
After the training, SAP employees often start meetings with a minute of stillness. Groups also get together to practice “mindful” eating and walking in their breaks, slowing down and paying full attention to their chewing or their steps.
The trend for corporate mindfulness started in Silicon Valley at companies such as Google and Intel but SAP says it has gone further than most. It is now advising the likes of Siemens and Deutsche Telekom on mindfulness programs.
Some skeptics question the benefits of firms investing in employee wellbeing, suggesting that many offerings amount to little more than “well-washing” if they only gloss over a stress-inducing corporate culture.
At SAP, mindfulness is part of a broader push to tackle stress and improve employee health that it says is resulting in higher profits.
Mindfulness enables people to step back and consider alternative ideas rather than reacting to events impulsively, Gautam Gupta writes. When we are in reactive mode, decisions are made using the least intelligent areas of our brains.
Mindfulness helps us toggle to more active and intelligent areas of the brain, enabling us to be in greater control of our emotions and thereby a choice of more appropriate response.
Mindfulness expert, Mirabai Bush, well know for introducing it to Google, says: “Bringing mindfulness into the workplace doesn’t prevent issues from coming up. But whenever they do arise, they can be responded to appropriately after due thought and judgment. Over time with mindfulness, we learn to develop the inner resources that will help us navigate through difficult, trying and stressful situations with more ease, comfort, and grace.”
Becoming aware of one’s emotions as they arise gives an individual more choice in terms of dealing with them. Mindfulness helps become aware of one’s emotion by noticing various sensations in the body. Then one can follow these guidelines: stop doing what you are doing and breathe deeply. Notice how you are experiencing the emotion in your body. Reflect on where the emotion is coming from in your mind (personal history, insecurity etc.). Respond in the most compassionate way.
We all try to avoid suffering and in the process enlarge it and so make it worse, Malcolm Durham writes.
That’s because we don’t simply accept the thing that is making us suffer — say a complaint from a client — but enlarge it in a four-step process:
1. We ask questions: “How did this happen to me?”
2. We seek explanations: “It’s because I’m not good enough; because the world is against me.”
3. We heap on self-blame: “I really need to perform better.”
4. We end up feeling desperate: “I’m not going to succeed because these bad things keep happening to me.”
Julia Edelstein has written a helpful article. Some highlights:
…Understand that you’re being played by programmers. A heavy social-media habit isn’t entirely your fault. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — they’ve all been designed to make you repeatedly use them and check back in…When you keep in mind that the technology is designed to hold you hostage, you might be motivated to set time limits. Think of it as buying a snack-size bag of chips instead of the party-size.
Set limits: Vow to stay off social media during meals with others, when you’re in the bathroom or in bed.
Buy an alarm clock: If you use your phone as an alarm, the last and first thing you’ll do each day is stare into that screen.
Stoicism is supposed to be a living, breathing thing. Not just words you look at on a page once, but something you carry with you, something you use to live, says @dailystoic. So that, as Seneca put it, the “words become works.”
Recalling Epictetus’s advice in our daily lives: “Two words should be committed to memory and obeyed by alternatively exhorting and restraining ourselves, words that will ensure we lead a mainly blameless and untroubled life. Those two words were “persist and resist.” So that we persist in our efforts, despite any obstacles we might face, and that we resist naysayers, discouragement, selfish and egotistical tendencies and distractions.
The world is constantly testing us. We set out to do something and it’s more trying than we expect. We face resistance. We get criticized. We run out of options. We experience technical difficulties. What will we do?
Marcus Aurelius would say that the Stoic finds a way to turn every negative into a positive. In this famous line, what he’s suggesting is that no matter how bad or seemingly undesirable a situation becomes we always have the opportunity to practice virtue, to use the situation as an opportunity to be our best selves.
We don’t control when things get hard, but we always control how we respond. We can show patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity. The things that test us make us who we are.
The Stoic grows stronger and better with every obstacle they face. They rally to every challenge and thrive as a result. So can you.
As the Haitian proverb puts it: Behind mountains are more mountains. One does not overcome one obstacle only to enter the land of no obstacles. No matter how successful we are or will be, we¹re going to find things that stand in our path. @dailystoic
It bears repeating (again and again), a healthy mind lives inside a healthy brain, which in turn lives inside a healthy body.
Eat your greens – everyone has heard this but most people just don’t eat much, certainly not more than once per day, unless you count the one or two weeks per year in the summer when they are on holiday in a Mediterranean country.
There’s one relatively easy addition to your daily food routine that could have a big boost to your mental and physical health.
Children are always being forced to eat their greens. Ironically it’s much more important for adults – especially middle-agers – to eat these greens because middle-agers need to combat the effects of oxidization – young children don’t!
Fresh greens are super foods. During autumn and winter months they are best eaten “wilted” (i.e. lightly sautéed or steamed) in soups, curries, stews, etc. The absolute easiest way to “prepare” them is to put some soup in a big bowl, sprinkle two or three handfuls of greens onto the soup and heat in a microwave for about 4 minutes.
A simple recipe:
For some it’s already been a long winter and during these times, many people have to work harder at happiness. Here are nine practical and concise suggestions, as compiled by the Daily Express newspaper.
1- Help others: Humans are hard-wired for altruism, which is why it makes us happy. Our ancestors had to help each other to stay alive, and being kind strengthens our relationships and makes us feel good too.
Try it: Perform an act of kindness every day such as serving a loved one breakfast in bed, letting a stranger have your parking space or calling a sick friend.
2- Reach out: Those with strong relationships are happier, healthier and live longer.
Try it: Ask a friend, relative or colleague about the best part of their day and listen intently to their answer.
It’s very reassuring when someone with serious experience as a senior business leader writes compellingly about the benefits of meditation. Bill George was a senior executive for about two decades, including six years as CEO of medical device company Medtronic. He is now a professor at the Harvard Business School.
Here are some excerpts from a recent article by Bill in the Huffington Post:
“…What is causing this shift to mindful leadership? In the stress-filled 24/7 world in which we live, leaders of all organizations need the opportunity for a “time out” period. It is their opportunity to relax, breathe deeply, de-stress and gain clarity about their work and the decisions they are facing. As I stressed at last week’s summit, mindfulness practices enable leaders to ensure the important issues are taking precedence over immediate pressures.”
“…This practice is the best thing I have done to calm my mind and my emotions, focus on what is most important while releasing trivial worries and think clearly about important decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, my most creative ideas have come from meditation.”
“…Of course, meditation is not for everyone. What is essential for all of us — as I share in my classes and lectures — is having a daily practice of taking twenty minutes to quiet your mind, reflect and be introspective. For you, it may come through prayer, journaling, reflecting in a beautiful place or taking a long walk or jog. The goal? To create more self-aware leaders who understand themselves, their motivations, their values and the purpose of their leadership.”
“…Becoming a mindful leaders requires daily practice. It is easy to say, as I did back in 1974, that you don’t have the time to fit this practice into your busy schedule. In fact, the opposite is true — you don’t have the time not to pursue it.
Are you suffering from “hangxiety”? Top tips for overcoming the post-party blues this holiday season.
The morning after can often bring on anxiety for some – here are five stress busters for beating the blues.
“Character, what you are, is ultimately more important than competence, what you can do. Primary greatness is, at is base, a matter of character… It is foundational. All else builds on this cornerstone. Even the very best structure, system, style, and skills can’t compensate completely for deficiencies in character.” – Stephen R. Covey, Primary Greatness
There are 12 areas we can focus on to build our character and unleash primary greatness.
1. Integrity. Our first lever of primary greatness: To actually BE that which we aspire to be rather than merely
appear to be. This is the foundation of success.
2. Contribution. This is all about your legacy. How will you make a positive difference?
3. Priority. That which matters most must never be at the mercy of that which matters least. We must, as Covey taught in
7 Habits put “first things first.”