It is no secret our physical and mental health greatly affect all areas of our life. In recent years the practice of meditation has risen in popularity across the globe. Successful businesspeople, such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, have lauded its benefits leading all sectors of the business world – creative to engineering fields – to take notice of the positive effects meditation (and other mindfulness activities) can have on workplace outcomes.
“Meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports.” ~ Bill Gates.
Initially skeptical of meditation, Gates turned believer thanks to Headspace app founder Andy Puddicombe. Headspace created a “low barrier entry” to meditation practice for Gates who now regularly meditates 10 minutes a day, 2-3 times weekly.
- Increases Productivity.
- Lessens stress and accompanying physical symptoms. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says meditation can help to ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even irritable bowel syndrome. Less stress leads to less absenteeism which leads to an increase in productivity. It also assists with memory development and the battle against Alzheimer’s.
- Sharpens Focus and Intuition. A key principle to mindfulness is focusing on the present. By improving intuition, people will pay attention to their inner voice and will think before acting (or reacting). This increases efficiency in decision making and helps to avert mistakes.
- Enhances emotional IQ.
- Empowers courage and resilience. Mindfulness can give you the tools to face anxious situations such as asking for a raise and/or facing skepticism and setbacks.
- Builds confidence. Successfully navigating new situations or learning new skills – even when anxious in doing so – can give rise to generalized confidence.
- Facilitates Problem Solving.
- Adjusts attitudes. Mindfulness helps support an attitude of positivity and kindness to self and others. In turn, criticism is less harsh and more productive. Having a positive attitude also helps in fostering necessary connections with others.
- Cultivates creativity. Research has shown mindfulness training can have a positive impact on creative output. Meditation opens your mind to new ideas by allowing the transition from linear (convergent) to divergent thinking according to Danny Penman’s book Mindfulness for Creativity. “Having an open and curious attitude is referred to as “beginner’s mind” — the capacity to bring fresh eyes to a problem and engage in new perspectives for how to solve it” – Harvard Business Review.
With successful businesspeople touting the benefits of meditation and companies such as Google and Aetna offering corporate-based mindfulness programs to strengthen their employees’ emotional intelligence and well-being, why not begin your own meditation practice to see if it’s right for you? Remember Bill Gates’ low barrier entry. It does not need to be a significant investment of time or energy. Short spurts, consistently, can have a positive impact.
- Pose a leading question to yourself daily. It should be one that is not immediately answerable. Your actions throughout the day will help answer this question subconsciously. “How can I relieve stress today?” is one example.
- Be present in your surroundings by paying attention to more than your phone. You can easily overlook opportunities to show (or notice) kindness or other little details that may encourage positivity.
- Acknowledge the positive things in life. Throughout each day, every time something good happens, take at least 10 seconds to soak it in.
Getting in the right headspace will improve your life. It may also make you the next Bill Gates in your own field.