Minding your business

having a sit

What do compassion and mindfulness meditation have to do with your bottom line?

Meditation has ancient roots, and its original purpose was to train the mind in order to cultivate compassion and help ease one’s own suffering.  In fact, an article in the NY Times recently reported on research showing that people who engage in meditation practice are in fact markedly more likely to demonstrate compassion to others.  A potential explanation for the finding is that meditation enhances attention and increases people’s perception of interconnectedness.

As scientific evidence in favor of its benefits accumulates, mediation is also being touted as a way to improve creativity, productivity, memory, and a host of other psychological and physical outcomes, including reduced stressed and improved relationships – at home, and at work.  As but one example, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that people trained in mindfulness meditation showed less emotional exhaustion on the job and increased job satisfaction.  Basically, when people are mindful, they don’t feel as stressed by the situation they face, so they act more authentically, and as a result bear less of an emotional load. Other, similar research has shown that mindfulness has a role in improving task performance and even work-family balance.  All of these outcomes impact an organization’s bottom line.

Chade-Meng Tan, known as the “Jolly Good Fellow” at Google, has given a fascinating TedTalk on the topic.  His argument is that we should practice mindfulness and cultivate compassion, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because research shows that it makes us happier, and that organizations can leverage this fact to make their business more profitable. In collaboration with a diverse team of experts, Chade-Meng Tan developed an emotional intelligence training program at Google that hinges on mindfulness meditation training.  The gist is that by training the mind, we can school our emotions, which naturally leads to greater self-awareness, improved emotional intelligence, and ultimately enhances work performance, leadership quality, and personal happiness.

If this sounds intriguing to you, check out Meng’s book, “Search Inside Yourself.” There are even mindfulness meditation apps you can download on your smartphone to get started quickly.  There are many, but my favorite are those by MindApps. Jon Kabbat-Zinn has published numerous books on the topic of mindfulness meditation and its benefits as well (this is my favorite).  It takes a surprisingly small investment in time and resources to begin to reap the benefits of a mindfulness practice, and everyone benefits, including your business.