How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Job Satisfaction

If you’re not entirely satisfied with the way things are going at work, you’re certainly not alone. Perhaps you’ve simply had enough of stressful situations and unmet expectations. Maybe you find yourself saying to all who will listen: “It just never changes, does it? People are incompetent, new staff are not trained properly and I am just expected to work harder and harder…”.

If this sounds like you on a bad day, then let’s face it: something has to change! However, what you might not have considered is that perhaps the thing that needs to change is actually you!

Sure, there is something to be said for setting healthy boundaries and ensuring that your external work environment is conducive to good mental health. Often, however, the shift that needs to take place is an internal one. In this article, we describe how Mindfulness can be used to improve your job satisfaction and overall quality of life. Read on to learn more.

Perfectionism on The Rise

A recent (2018) study found that perfectionism among young adults has increased significantly within the last 20 years. Along with a rise in perfectionism comes an increase in a range of workplace difficulties. These include overall inefficiency at work (think of task-paralysis), a diminished ability to delegate (very important if you want to survive in the work force), depressive thoughts (not great for your work relationships), hostility towards the boss (ouch) and other negative behaviours. Employers typically dislike this kind of resistant attitude and toxic atmosphere; and no wonder – it is unproductive and unhelpful to all who are involved. So, what can you do if your perfectionism – or any other internal stressor – is making your work-life an ongoing misery?

What You Can Do About Workplace Stress

If you’re looking to increase your job satisfaction, it may be time to start improving your impersonal awareness and the way that you approach tasks and people. Why? Because simply changing your job is not going to be sufficient to change this pattern of problematic work relationships! Incorporating the practice of Mindfulness is a good place to start changing yourself for the better. By making this sort of an internal shift, you’re likely to be better equipped to cope with a challenging work-place environment. What exactly is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness – What It Is and What It Is Not

Mindfulness is an approach that’s based on ancient Buddhist philosophy. To be mindful is to be fully present and conscious of your moment-to-moment experience. In other words, it’s about being fully grounded in reality; and to accept your experience in a non-judgemental manner.

Why is this important? Mindfulness teaches us to develop a healthier relationship with our thoughts and our emotions. When we are caught-up in our thoughts, we are more vulnerable to having our buttons pushed, which is when we land up making poor decisions and experiencing uncomfortable levels of stress. By contrast, being in a state of Mindfulness means that you’re aware of what your thoughts are doing; and you can also focus on your bodily sensations in order to ground yourself in the moment. So, just to recap on what Mindfulness and what it is not:

Mindfulness Is:

  • A skill that can be learned
  • An attitude or behaviour trait
  • A tool used by psychotherapists for children and adults
  • A state of mind that brings clarity of thought

Mindfulness Is not:

  • Restricted to a class or group that you attend
  • A religion
  • Something you can purchase
  • A single technique  
  • A mindless or mind-numbing exercise

The Benefits of Mindfulness Include:

  • Become calmer and better at regulating distressing emotions
  • Become more mentally flexible and better at rational decision-making, rather being susceptible to unpredictable emotional reactivity
  • Become easier to talk to and nicer to work with

Get Started Today

You have nothing to lose, so before you change your job again try to change your mindset from misery to mindful; and watch your work well-being improve as a result. How can you start practicing mindfulness?

Simply turn your attention to what’s going on within yourself, right here and now. Focus your attention on your breathing. Notice what it feels like to inhale and exhale; observe the expansion of your chest, the cool (or warmth) of the air passing through your body. Now observe your thoughts – what is going through your mind? Try not to get carried away by these thoughts – simply notice them as they come and go. Finally, direct your attention to your emotions. What emotional state are you in right now?

Try to observe all of these factors – your breath, thoughts and emotions – without judging your experience. While the technique described above is a great way to start developing your own Mindfulness practice, there are many other techniques for achieving this mindset. An online search will bring up a long list of resources for practicing Mindfulness.   

How Could This Improve My Job Satisfaction?

Statistics and research have shown us that striving for perfection and control in a work environment is potentially counter-productive. That is, people actually achieve less when they’re overly concerned with controlling external situations. Not only does less get done, but more social problems are created: including a poor life/work balance, resistance to change, preoccupation with unimportant details, poor work-communication and interpersonal difficulties in situations that require teamwork.

By contrast, evidence suggests that Mindfulness promotes more effective self-management, mental strength and efficient goal-directed behaviour. This means you are more likely to get your job done while feeling more positive toward and accepting of your environment. Furthermore, you’re more likely to remain calm in the face of work challenges. All of these are important factors when it comes to improving one’s job satisfaction.

Build a Brain That’s More Likely To Achieve Satisfaction

Mindfulness is a skill just like any other: the more you practice it, the easier it becomes. One of the most exciting findings of modern neuroscience is that the brain is neuroplastic – meaning that it can change. Research has shown, time and time again, that Mindfulness practice has the capacity to literally change the structure of our brains. This means that, to some extent, the metaphor of the brain as a muscle holds true. The more you “train” your brain through Mindfulness, the more adept you will become at viewing your work (and the world) in a healthier way. So take that step today and make the internal changes necessary to improve your job satisfaction and overall quality of life.

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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