Going in to the last semester of my senior year at Colorado State University, I only needed six credits to graduate. The idea of having a ridiculously relaxed semester was intriguing and tempting, but I instead went the opposite route and registered for a full class load of 17 credits. I recognized that it could very possibly be my last opportunity to take classes that cover topics I might not get the chance to learn about again – at least not in a college setting. The classes I registered for included Website Design, Aerobics, and Human Psychology. In addition to this list of classes, I also registered for a class called Religions of the East.
Through this class we learned about the various religious and cultural practices of people all over the continent of Asia.
Over the course of the semester, there was always one reoccurring theme within all religions. This theme focused on the powerful impacts of Mindfulness.
In April, I decided to attend a Mindfulness Symposium, conducted by The Center for Public Health Practices in Fort Collins, Colorado. I couldn’t help but notice the many similarities between Mindfulness and the principles of TRACOM’s Adaptive Mindset Model.
In class we defined Mindfulness as “a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.” Being mindful has a huge emphasis on living in the present moment and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This has become such an important topic and even more relevant to our lifestyles today because as human beings we are constantly obsessing about the past, stressing about the future, and multi-tasking in the present. In this fast paced world that we live in, we seldom give one single task our 100% attention. Not being mindful causes us a great amount of anxiety and disconnect in our lives.
In Buddhism, the term “dukkha” is the gap between how we interact with the world and how the world, in that moment, really is. Although this is just a brief definition of dukkha, and to thoroughly understand its implications requires expertise that I, after a single semester long class, do not obtain, but in a simple and broad overview it is suffering or pain, it is impermanence or change, and it is conditioned states. Dukkha is what causes us dissatisfaction, dis-ease, anxiety, and unhappiness. An example of dukkha would be catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when we create situations in our mind that do not exist. For example, your boss calls you into his office because he wants to have a discussion about your work. You begin to panic because you are convinced it is bad news. In reality he calls you in to his office to tell you he is promoting you, and to congratulate you on your efforts within the company. Due to the way our minds have evolved, humans notoriously make up worst case scenarios. The symposium helped me realize that regardless of what religious and cultural practices we have, dukkha is just a term to describe a state that is relevant to all of our lives. The existence of this term and the methods used to eliminate dukkha demonstrate the natural tendencies that humans have exhibited for thousands of years, but more importantly, shows evidence that various practices to enhance Mindfulness and eliminate dukkha, such as practicing resiliency or behavioral eq, do work.
The concepts of mindfulness have been receiving well-deserved visibility these days, primarily based on new research on performance and brain function. But this seemingly “new trend” is not as new as we think. Mindfulness was being practiced by people as early as 7,000 years ago. I was fascinated during the symposium as I realized that practicing resiliency and an adaptive mindset were some of the foundations of Mindfulness. Adaptive Mindset skills are all about overcoming the natural, counterproductive tendencies we have developed over the centuries that get in the way of personal success. These natural tendencies (dukkha) can have a significant impact on workplace productivity, employee morale, and even company culture. In fact, studies show that workplace stress can lead to costly mental illness when left unaddressed. Investing in resiliency and mindset skills training for employees and leaders results in:
- Increased productivity
- Greater creativity
- More effective collaboration
- Company-wide innovation
- Increased Employee Engagement