How can mindfulness and mental training help you become more successful and achieve happiness at work?

by André Genwa Daiyû Steiner

André Genwa Daiyû Steiner

Happiness comes not from doing WHAT makes you happy, but from doing what you do HAPPILY.” –André Genwa Daiyû Steiner

Practicing mindfulness is simple, but not easy. We become radically aware of the present moment, with all our senses. Mindfulness can be trained, like a muscle – but endurance and consistency are required.

In a time of quick and instant satisfaction – any information you want is available on Google, the craving for your favorite food can always be satisfied by 24h delivery service, muscles can be defined electrically without any active effort – a practice like mindfulness that requires practice may seem unattractive.

As in sports, a small step every day has a more lasting effect than a large step once. Fundamental attitude: There is no activity more important than the present one – being mindful is not racing off to try and find something better. Practicing mindfulness means returning to life in the present moment: 

“When I sit, I sit; when I walk, I walk; when I eat, I eat.” (Zen Master Nansen).

One aspect of mindfulness can be to turn our attention consciously to our senses or to our own body. We expect our bodies to do their job, day after day, but we seldom pay them any attention unless they hurt.

Everything we take in in terms of input and food needs to be processed. Everything we do, our posture, movement, tension, leaves its mark. Everything we feel emotionally has a physical equivalent. The body has its own way of knowing. A knowledge that little has to do with logic and much with truth, little with control and much with acceptance.

The practice of mindfulness can free us from the jail of perfection and release us into the gentle beauty of our imperfect yet wonderful human body.

So it is about being attentive. In doing so, we become aware of all our daily habits – we experience them consciously and with presence in every action, in every movement, in every word. A well-known Zen saying sums it up perfectly: “Make every moment the best moment of your life.” This is the path to success and leads to a fundamental feeling of happiness and ease.

What are the benefits of mindfulness in a business context?

mindfulness in the work place

The benefits of mindfulness have been studied scientifically for years, and multiple benefits have been discovered when it comes to regular mindfulness practice in a business context:

  1. Improved memory: Keep the important stuff fresh in your mind.
  2. Improved concentration and attention: Pay attention in meetings, stay in the zone when working.
  3. Stronger decision-making skills: When we understand ourselves better, we see more clearly, feel more courageous, and make better choices.
  4. Greater self-esteem and self-confidence: When we’re not worrying about how the world sees us, we are free to act boldly.
  5. More serenity: Less friction… more trust and cooperation… new pathways open up.

4 tips that help you when acute self-doubts and anxiety come up at work

About recognizing anxiety in the mind

When expectations and reality differ, anxiety and self-doubt result in our mind. All of our biological systems strive to establish a calmness – called coherence – in which everything that is going on inside and outside work together as effectively as possible. And when we fail to establish coherence, the deeper layers of the brain are activated. This leads us into fight-or-flight mode.

Typical behavior patterns are anger or aggression on the one hand and withdrawal, sadness or depression on the other – and if both modes do not work anymore, we go into shock/freeze.

Anxiety and self-doubt can be difficult to combat even in the best of times. But with the world constantly changing and new problems popping up every day, it’s even harder to find moments of calm.

Exercises to cope with anxiety and self-doubt

Here are the most effective, breathing and relaxation exercises for anxiety and self-doubt compiled. 

Manipulating breathing on purposes is a small change that can have a big impact. Moreover, it can be done at any time and anywhere (for example, when you feel a panic attack coming on at the office or during a family dinner).

1) Box Breathing

Box breathing is an effective relaxation technique. The idea is that you imagine a box (with four equal sides, like a square) while doing the breathing exercise.

  • Breathe in through your nose while counting to 4.
  • Hold the breath for 4 seconds.
  • Exhale through the mouth for 4 counts.
  • Hold the breath for another 4 counts.
  • Then repeat this exercise. Try to continue until you feel your heartbeat and mind begins to slow down.

2) Deep Belly Breathing

If you are looking for a more meditative breathing technique, this exercise is great because it requires mindful concentration.

  • Inhale and focus on filling your belly, then your lungs, then your chest.
  • Hold your breath at the top.
  • Breathe out in reverse order: from the chest, the lungs, then the belly.
  • You can repeat this as many times as it feels good.

3) Body Scan

Doing a body scan can be helpful if you feel very tense during the day or if you feel too restless to sleep.

For this exercise, lie on your back and stretch out your legs and arms in a comfortable position. Focus all your attention on each single part of your body, one at a time, starting with your feet.

You can either do a scan of any sensations or emotions associated with your body, or simply relax each part as you come to it.

4) Writing a diary – Journaling

 Write to your inner you about worries, wishes and hopes and start a dialogue in which the writer is also the reader or listener.  In the Mindshine app you will find many journaling exercises to help you find inspiration and the right questions. However, you can also write “freely”.

To write freely, set a timer on your phone. Try to start with 5 minutes, but feel free to adjust it until you find the right amount of time for you.

During this time, you can write anything that comes to mind. When the timer goes off, put the pen down and leave the writing for a while.

If you want, you can come back to it later and read it and go over your thoughts and feelings.

About the author

André Genwa Daiyû Steiner is a ZEN master and sensei, a keynote speaker, management trainer, author, expert in the fields of mindfulness, meditation and mind training. 

He has been practicing the Zen way for 30 years under the guidance of Japanese Zen masters. He runs his own Zen school and several Zendos in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Experiencing the present moment with all senses leads to ease and serenity – that’s what drives him. 

Download the Mindshine app (iOS or Android) for additional mindfulness and happiness exercises. Check out “Worry Less” “Journaling for Joy” and “Say it to Yourself”.

Check out how defining your values can help you make better decisions, or how to turn positive stress into personal growth.