Incorporating stillness into your workday is key to being happier

Incorporating stillness into your workday is key to being happier

When was the last time you just stopped? Put down your devices, ignored your notifications and just spent a moment being still? Being present, thoughtful and reflective? In today’s busy, noisy, distracting and non-stop world, it is hard to be still. But history’s greatest thinkers and leaders have recognized that stillness is a secret weapon. Stillness brings you moments of great clarity and creativity, helps you triumph over your tempers and creates the space to appreciate and rejoice in the pleasure of life.

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When we hear the word “stillness” we immediately think of it as the opposite of movement but it is an energetic quality of being. It is not about inactivity, it is about powerful moments that can change your life. In a busy, noisy world, stillness is the key to peace, clarity and happiness. If you have ever concentrated so deeply that a burst of insight strikes you, you know stillness. If you have ever stepped in front of an audience and poured months of practice into a single, powerful performance, that is stillness. Once you know yourself in your living stillness there is nothing in this world that is greater than you (Serge Benhayon).

Leadership expert Randall Stutman, who works with CEOs and Wall Street leaders, once studied how business big shots recharge during their time off. The key, he discovered, lay in spending time in environments with minimal noise, enjoying activities like long-distance cycling, swimming or scuba diving. There, these leaders recharged by escaping from the voices that cluttered their working lives. Dialling down the noise like this helps us discover a deeper awareness of what is around us. That could mean the answers to your business problems, which pop into your head during your twentieth mile on the bike.

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We in the 21st century have forged a war on stillness. At some point in our history, busy became synonymous with achievement, and stillness was lost to the buzzing and flashing of our cell phones. An average worker is interrupted, on average, every three minutes by communication technologies, and post-interruption, it takes the average worker eight minutes to return to their train of thought. It is becoming increasingly clear that, in addition to productivity, all of this interruption is affecting our moods. The research is piling up and when alerts, co-workers, and the passing thoughts interrupt our focus, we have difficulty returning to baseline, and our happiness suffers. The following are some tips that can be used to refocus and maintain normalcy in the midst of chaos:

  1. Journaling – this can help you to reflect deeply on your life, and to think clearly.  Use a journal to log your tasks, so that you can easily return to your train of thought. By logging your interruptions as well as your tasks, you can begin to understand how many of your interruptions are internal (originating from a memory, feeling, or thought) and how many are external (arising from a co-worker, email, text, etc.).
  2. Daily to-do list – Before doing anything else in the morning, take five minutes to write a list of things you want to accomplish during the day. When you inevitably get derailed, you can return to this list and remind yourself of the tasks which are most aligned with your goals.
  3. Mindful breaks – as often as you need to dampen the effect of interruptions, take short (about 10-minute) breaks which help you to shift your focus inward and reset the emotional and cognitive centres. Especially after a distraction, which can initiate a stress response, a mindful break can work like a reset button and facilitate a seamless transition back into productive, focused work.

Every night can be a reminder that we are more than the sum of our successes and failures, that beyond all our struggling and our rushing there is a stillness that is available to us, that comes from a place deeper and more ancient than the unending noise that surrounds us (Ariana Huffington). There is one key quality shared by truly great people: the ability to be still, even while chaos reigns around them. All of us could benefit from more stillness, from more focus in moments of stress, more concentration at times of difficulty. When we find stillness, we can take better control over our decisions and our lives, instead of being buffeted by the tumultuous world around us.

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