November 22, 2016
By Anne Foy, Guest Contributor
Mindfulness has become something of a buzzword amongst professionals hoping to de-stress, enhance their wellbeing, and take control of their lives. And yet many people aren’t really clear about what mindfulness actually is. Put simply, mindfulness is the practice of paying close attention to the world around you and the way it impacts on your wellbeing: thinking about the clean fresh air as you take several deep breaths, enjoying the sensation of warm water on your skin as you wash your hands.
Effectively, mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and processing on the thoughts and feelings that moment creates, and is now regarded as a very effective therapeutic tool. Mindfulness helps people to feel calmer, more connected with the world around them, and more aware of their role within it. As a result, one of the ‘side effects’ of practicing mindfulness is that mindful people are more compassionate: and this is becoming increasingly important within the modern working environment, and is something that many professionals are now striving to achieve, separately to a state of mindfulness.
The Professional Benefits of Compassion
There are many professional benefits of demonstrating compassion in the workplace. Creating a culture of compassion within a workplace has been shown to bring out the best in employees within a wide range of different industries, and increases both morale, productivity, and both of these things will ultimately impact the financial bottom line of the company.
Bringing people together in a supportive environment can also lead to career progression Acknowledging the strength and attributes of others doesn’t negate your own achievements: in fact, if anything, showing this kind of support and compassion will only increase your own standing within your company and bring the right attention to you at the same time.
Most important though is the impact it has on individual employee wellbeing: it is important that compassion is not viewed as a self-serving act and simply as a tool to assist career progression. Rather, you should consider the ways that learning to demonstrate true compassion can enhance every aspect of your life and enrich your journey through the world, as well as through your career.
Learning to Show Self-Compassion
As well as showing compassion to others, is it important that we learn to show self-compassion. According to researcher Kristen Neff, self-compassion is composed of three parts: “self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.” We often find it easier to forgive others, to show them this common humanity, whilst not forgiving ourselves for the mistakes that we make in life.
Many people choose to consider self-compassion to be something of a self-indulgence, but in reality showing compassion to yourself when you fail, make a mistake, or fall short of expectations (both your own and others) will make you a happier and healthier individual. Showing self-compassion when you fail can also help to get rid of the fear of failure so common in many young professionals.
When you are no longer afraid to fail, you are free to take risks, to make leaps of faith, and to ultimately be brave enough to further your career more than you ever felt possible. Everyone fails: everyone suffers hardships, whether they be personal or professional. Forgiving yourself for those mistakes, showing self-compassion, and accepting that you are infallible, just like everyone else, is an important step in your personal development.
Self-compassion may sound like just another buzz word (it has even been called ‘the new mindfulness’) but in reality it is an important life skill to develop if you want to be happy and successful, both in your life and in your career.
Compassion and Mindfulness are a much more important part of career development than you might thing; getting your mind in a happy and healthy space is an important aspect of developing your career and becoming the person you want to be.
“Why Self-Compassion is the new Mindfulness”, Mindful.org, http://www.mindful.org/self-compassion-new-mindfulness/
“The importance of Mindfulness and compassion at work: LinkedIn Speaker Series with Matthieu Ricard”, LinkedIn, https://blog.linkedin.com/2015/06/25/the-importance-of-mindfulness-and-compassion-at-work-linkedin-speaker-series-with-matthieu-ricard
“Compassion: An essential ingredient of recovery”, Recovery.org, http://www.recovery.org/compassion-an-essential-ingredient-of-recovery/
"What is compassion and how can we cultivate it", The Oxford Mindfulness Centre, http://www.oxfordmindfulness.org/cultivating-compassion/
“Does Mindfulness Make you More Compassionate?”, Berkeley University, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/does_mindfulness_make_you_compassionate
“10 ways to bring more compassion to the workplace”, The Chopra Center, http://www.chopra.com/articles/10-ways-to-bring-more-compassion-to-the-workplace