Oftentimes I walk into work with a big smile on my face, say a cheery "hello," and it’s met with a grumpy "hey" by a coworker. And oftentimes, I am the grumpy coworker. We all have our days. Most of what causes those grumpy moments has nothing to do with our job. (Not liking your job is a whole other post!) I believe most grumpiness stems from lack of caring for ourselves and from falling into assumptions and judgments. As I always say, whatever you pay attention to grows, so what is growing in your life right now is what you planted. You can create calmness in chaos.
Practicing mindfulness at work is the catalyst for strengthening relationships with coworkers, boosting your creativity, refreshing your confidence, and lessening your negative self-talk.
When that coworker gives you a halfhearted "hello," is your first thought, "What is wrong with her today?" or is it, "Oh, no. I hate seeing her like that."? Observing situations without judgment or assumptions is not only helpful for your self-esteem, but for others’ benefit as well. It is caring for others and thinking of yourself with healthy boundaries, and it will quiet your mind and environment.
Here's an example of what can happen with and without mindfulness when interacting with your coworker:
The issue: Peggy seems very crabby. She is truly not herself today.
What is her problem?
She didn't even do her makeup today.
I bet she’s mad because I left a ton of towels in the dryer when I left last night without folding them. Well, she does that a lot to me too, so whatever.
I don’t have the energy to put up with her attitude today.
Peggy seems upset. I know how that feels. I had a day like that last week.
I hope she has an easy day so she can find some peace.
I hate seeing her so sad.
I like her shoes. I am going to let her know that.
I am going to get some extra chores done today to lighten the load of others.
Infusing your day with mindfulness means several things: refraining from being critical of others; not feeling responsible for things you can’t control (like what others think or feel); displaying kindness and caring toward others instead of focusing on negative self-talk; and slowing down to let go of assumptions and judgments. Peggy is upset, but it’s self-defeating to overthink about whether her mood has anything to do with you. Be mindful of the truth, refresh your confidence, and set a healthy boundary.
It's OK to fail the first time when practicing mindfulness.
Cultivating mindfulness means thinking differently about a normal activity. This week’s challenge starts after practicing your two-minute relaxation technique from week-one. First, prevent any distractions. Let's remove one huge distraction: your phone. Put that away. Like really put it away in a drawer. Second, sit at your nail station. Focus on one mindful matter. Here are some examples: your chair, your tabletop, the sounds or smells around you. I will use the chair in this example, but remember to change it up each time you practice this. Start by really experiencing what your chair feels like. The fabric, the backrest, the armrests, and the comfort it brings. Stretch your feet out in front of you and relax them. Feel the chair as a peaceful spot to regroup. Breathe deeply and slowly. You got this!
Full disclaimer: When I did this the very first time, I did not put my phone away. As I sat in my chair, my mind drifted to how uncomfortable my chair was and within 15 seconds I was online buying a new chair. It's OK to fail the first time when practicing mindfulness. Being aware of the mistakes and not wallowing in the failures will help you to try the practice again!
Next week’s topic: Creating Peace in the Chaos — Being Mindful of Gossip
Nail tech Jeri Mallow is the owner of Hartford, Wis.-based Nail Essentials and Inspire Nail Academy. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @nailessentials and Instagram @nailessentialhartfordwi.