Mindfulness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series): A book review by Bob Morris

How much are you missing because you’re not paying attention? Probably a great deal.

HBR Press offers a series of anthologies (nine volumes thus far) of articles in which contributors share proven research that explains how our emotions impact our work lives, practical advice for managing difficult people and situations, and inspiring essays on what it means to tend to our emotional well-being at work. Uplifting and practical, these books describe the social skills that are critical for ambitious professionals to master.

If you were to purchase reprints of the nine articles in this volume separately, the total cost would be $89.55. Amazon now sells the volume for only $11.41.

According to the HBR editors of this volume, “The benefits of mindfulness include better performance, heightened creativity, deeper self-awareness, and increased charisma [or at least increased appeal] — not to mention greater peace of mind.

“This book gives you practical steps for building a sense of presence into your daily work routine. It also explains the science behind mindfulness and why it works and gives clear-eyed warnings about the pitfalls of the fad.”

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From “Mindfulness in an Age of Complexity,” an interview of Ellen Langer by Alison Beard

Beard: Let’s start with the basics. What, exactly, is mindfulness? How do you define it?

Langer: Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it makes you mo®e sensitive to context and perspective. It’s the essence of engagement. And it’s energy begetting, not energy consuming. The mistake most people make is to assume that it’s stressful and exhausting — all this thinking. But what’s stressful is all the mindless nega=tive evaluation we make and the worry that we’ll find problems and not be able to solve them.

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From “How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout the Day,” Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter

Based on our experience with thousands of leaders in more than 250 organizations, here are some guidelines for becoming a more focused and mindful leader.

First, start off your day right. Researchers have found that we release the most stress hormones within minutes after waking. Why? Because thinking of the day ahead triggers our fight-or-flight instinct and releases cortisol into our blood. Instead, try this: When you wake up, spend two minutes in your bed simply noticing your breath. As thoughts about the day pop into your mind, let them go and return to your breath.

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From “Mindfulness for People Who Are Too Busy to Meditate,” Maria Gonzalez

The next time you’re in a meeting, try to do nothing but listen for seconds at a time. This is harder than it sounds, but with practice you will be able to listen continuously without a break in concentration. Whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, come right back to listening to the voice of the person who is speaking. You may have to redirect your attention dozens of times in a single meeting — it’s extremely common. Always bring yourself back gently and with patience. You are training the mind to be right there, right now.

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Many people need to improve their emotional well-being, not only at work but in all other areas of life. To them and those who supervise them, I highly recommend the HBR Emotional Intelligence Series.



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