As I’ve shared, I recently read the fantastic new book, How We Work, by Dr. Leah Weiss. Leah’s background is fascinating. She’s a licensed social worker, has a PhD in Theology and Education, has trained extensively in mindfulness and now teaches a pioneering course at Stanford Business School called Mindful Leadership.
Here’s what the Dalai Lama (yes, the Dalai Lama) had to say about this book:
“I have long thought that what the Buddha taught can be seen as a highly developed science of mind which, if made more accessible to a lay audience, could benefit many people. I believe that Dr. Weiss’s book, in combining such insights with science and good business practice, offers an effective mindfulness based program that many will find helpful.” – His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
Today, I want to share three powerful ideas from the book:
MINDFULNESS INTEGRATED INTO LIFE.
Leah writes, “I actually had plenty of time to practice [mindfulness], I realized, because practice wasn’t something I had to take time out of working or mothering or living to do. In fact, working, mothering, and living — life — were all opportunities for practice. There is a saying in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism: ‘Take all of life onto the path.’ Freed from the confines of the cushion, meditation could include all of life.”
I especially loved her articulation of this piece of wisdom: “The back-to-back demands and busy-ness of our days do not stand in the way of our purpose in the world; they represent a chance to realize it.”
In our conversation, we’ll talk more about how to do this — the practical ways we can bring mindfulness into our lives moment to moment. For today, find a moment to pause, and simply bring mindfulness to the situation: What am I feeling right now? What sensations do I notice in my body? What emotions am I experiencing? With awareness, we have a space to self-reflect, to question our assumptions, or to take action to redirect our attention to where we desire it to be.
WE’VE GOT TO FEEL OUR FEELINGS, NOT TRY TO BYPASS THEM.
She writes, “The research consensus is that fighting against our feelings only makes them stronger… The ability to tolerate or accept or get curious about our unpleasant emotions is the ticket out of this cycle.”
It’s not easy of course, because we all have an instinct to avoid feeling difficult emotions (and we often make a habit out of it!). In our conversation, we will talk about what that looks like in the moment — how can we be mindful of what emotions we are experiencing (even subtly) and then what do we do next once we are aware of them? For today, can you greet a difficult emotion with simple awareness — noting to yourself the sadness, anger, frustration or other feeling present?
FINDING PURPOSE IN OUR WORK.
As you can imagine, I loved the section of the book on the importance of living and working with purpose. Leah writes, “Purpose boosts our capacity to make the greatest impact in the work we do, and to connect with other people across cultures and contexts, however powerless or lonely we might feel. We are energized, motivated, and expanded by a sense of purpose.”
She invokes a metaphor for staying connecting to purpose that I loved: in a jigsaw puzzle, there are all the pieces, and then there is that picture of the whole puzzle put together that is often on the cover of the box. How often do we remember that big picture, the whole of what we are working toward or trying to put together with all these little pieces?
In our conversation, we will talk about strategies for staying rooted in your purpose as you move through the mundane, frantic, or stressful moments of the everyday. For today, bring back a sense of that picture of the whole puzzle on the cover of the box — what’s the vision you are working toward? How does having a sense of it change how you move through today?
You can get your copy of How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind here.
photo credit: Matt Hoffman