APR 30, 2012 @ 09:24 PM
Todd Essig , CONTRIBUTOR
My beat is mental health, mental wealth and making the most of living Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
There’s a new search program at Google, but one without a magic algorithm. This program lets you search inside yourself so you can find, well, yourself. Cleverly titled “Search Inside Yourself,” it’s a free course Google provides employees that is designed to teach emotional intelligence through meditation, a practical real-world meditation you take with you wherever you go. The program was reported in yesterday’s NY Times and described in Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan who also teaches the course. It’s a rock-solid business-friendly mindfulness course in three acts: train your attention, develop self-knowledge and self-mastery, and create useful mental habits (video below).
That Google takes care of the minds of its employees should not surprise. Companies that fly high are learning to take care of their own, and the perks need to be more than free beverages and foosball tables. This is especially true at Google.
Employees coming from fast-paced fields, already accustomed to demanding bosses and long hours, say Google pushes them to produce at a pace even faster than they could have imagined.
Instruction in mindfulness, in being able to reflect rather react, is a genius perk to provide. The article does a nice job reporting how it helps those Googlers lucky enough not to get stuck on the waiting list; more people want to take it when offered than can be accommodated. With effectiveness and popularity in mind there’s a few more things that need to be said.
All Mindfulness is Good Mindfulness
It doesn’t matter where or how you develop mindfulness. Doesn’t matter why. Doesn’t even matter what you do: meditation, yoga, prayer, therapy, gratitude, science-help practices, hiking, painting, exercise, etc. It’s all good.
Any practice or activity that supports reflection over reactivity, encourages feeling feelings rather than acting on them, and opens awareness to what is really going on is of benefit. Slow down, notice, and savor is a great way to build mental wealth no matter where or how. It just is. All mindfulness really is good mindfulness.
Take a Deep Breath When Your Job Sucks
There’s a huge problem with the Google “Search Inside Yourself” path to greater mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Huge. Namely, most people don’t work for Google, or companies like Google. In fact, for many people work is a rather unplesant experience, and if not unpleasant few jobs offer opportunities for transcendence and personal liberation. For many work is just work.
But don’t think mindfulness doesn’t apply. Having a job that kind of sucks, or sucks some of the time, doesn’t mean that mindfulness is not for you. Perhaps the more your job fails to present opportunities for growth and self-expression, the more you need to cultivate mindfulness; perhaps when you’re working 9-to-5 is when you most need the ability to reflect rather than react.
“You have to detach as much from it as a source of stress as humanly possible while putting in enough effort to stay employed. Just because they’re paying you doesn’t mean you have to put your heart and soul into it.”
Well said Caitlin.