by Dr. Carla Fry and Dr. Lisa Ferrari Registered Psychologists + Directors of VPC
What if there was a skill, one almost anyone could develop, that could lead you to achieve greater success in any area of your life – family, career, fitness or overall happiness?
We believe there is such a skill and it’s known as mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
While the word ‘mindful’ can have new-agey associations for some, research behind mindfulness and its effect on success are impressive and worth paying attention to.
But first, what is it exactly?
Mindfulness is a frame of mind wherein a person is highly-attuned to the way they are currently experiencing of emotions, thoughts and experiences. This can mean being aware of sensory input such as the fragrance in the air, the texture of a sweater or the connection they are experiencing with the person in front of them.
This mental state features a level of curiosity and self-compassion, it focuses on the acceptance of what is, and it is disconnected from judgement.
Someone who is mindful can see their own behaviour with more perspective and clarity. They can act on what is, without focusing much on past hang-ups or future pressures that may be fogging up the present moment.
Adhering to such an approach allows people to be more intentional about their current behaviours, and more attentive to the impact they have on others. It can help clear the mind from the distractions and unnecessary mental noise that we all experience, allowing the brain to work to more optimally. One added benefit, it increases resilience to stress.
Mindfulness and Success
Although there are different definitions of success, most agree that success often consists of attaining standards of excellence, accomplishing an aim or purpose, and perhaps leaving a legacy.
For some, that may mean raising happy children, for others it may be achieving professional respect and experiencing the benefits of financial reward, recognition or power.
Researchers around the world confirm that people who are more mindful make better decisions, both personally and professionally. And of course, better decision-making often leads to greater success. (In professional circles, there are some schools of thought that successful people are not necessarily the most talented in the room. They just make the best decisions.)
Mindful people also have greater emotional intelligence and are calmer, happier and more competent. In addition, they share key qualities with successful people. They have:
- Better relationships, both personally and professionally.
- More grit – they have the ability to keep going when the going gets tough.
- The ability to learn from their mistakes
- The ability to prioritize healthful activities such as adequate sleep, exercise and healthy eating.
- The power to prioritize their down-time with reading and media that helps them positively relax, learn or connect.
Mindfulness is a deceptively simple, yet powerful process that can take time to implement in a consistent and meaningful way.
When we coach our clients, we recommend setting an intention of living with the 10-80-10 approach: Live 10% in the past, 80% in the now, 10% in the future. Trying to keep these ratios in mind is key in nurturing a mindful mindset.
Enrolling in a mindfulness class is a great way to help foster mindfulness. But simply making a committment to notice something new in every moment and in every interaction that you have, is a big step towards living a more successful and mindful life!
Originally published in Fresh Magazine Vancouver