In my recent studies with University of California Berkeley, I have spent a lot of time on the area of ‘Mindfulness’.
I am aware that in some mainstream business environments, the very subject of ‘Mindfulness’ is considered to be the reserve of people wearing yashmaks and sat on a grassy verge thinking (as one well known CEO put it) “deep thoughts about being unemployed”. However, I would like to introduce some of the more scientific reasoning and benefits that may surprise you.
“Mindfulness is the awareness that arises by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”
– John Kabat-Zin
Some amazing recent research work by Matt Killingsworth and Dan Gilbert at Harvard involved an iPhone app and well over 250,000 data sets on a variety of subjects. This research provides strong evidence to suggest that we are not attentive to the present moment, but in a state of ‘Mind Wandering’ 47% of the time. This includes all activities in our life (work, leisure, social, intimate..etc).
You might be tempted to suggest that Mind Wandering is a healthy and creative activity… the evidence suggests otherwise.
Unlike other animals, humans spend a lot of time thinking about events other than what is happening in the present moment. Spending time, energy and emotions considering, contemplating, worrying, stressing about events that happened in the past or events that may happen in the future …or events that might not happen at all. This is potentially not a recipe for happiness.
Creating a focused mind, takes time, practice and most of all a willingness to change. However, some of the potential benefits are;
1. Better health profile
2. Reduced exposure to self induced stress
3. Better performance / productivity
4. Increased happiness
To help you, consider the following when you are about to start your day or commence a task (project, meeting, sport…etc):
(a) What is my Intention? (Objective, Goal)
(b) How much attention can I devote to my intention (N.B. honesty is required here!)
(c) What attitude am I going to choose during my devoted attention?
Please understand that I am not advocating a world wide ban on mind wandering. However, I am suggesting that if you choose to start recognising when you are being ‘Present’ versus when you are wandering the majestic plains of your grey matter – you will enjoy more productivity, better results and ultimately increased happiness.