Ahh mindset. That new-age word that seems to be popping up everywhere, at home, when you’re working out, in your workplace and on your social media. It makes sense that it would be everywhere with us, I mean we take our minds with us everywhere we go right?
As a yoga teacher and a human resources professional I thought I would spend a little time breaking down the term ‘mindset’ in the most practical way so that you know what we’re talking about.
The Oxford Dictionary defines mindset as “the established set of attitudes that define someone” – and for some of us, these are perhaps attitudes that we didn’t even know we had.
So how is this applicable to life? We it is life. Every single day we wake up with a set of beliefs and attitudes towards our relationships, our food, our exercise, our work, our lives – everything, and often we don’t realise that we have A CHOICE to either shift these attitudes if they are not helping us to feel great, or to keep them exactly as they are.
One of the greatest lessons that yoga and meditation teaches us is to look at these attitudes, this ‘mind-stuff’ and not necessarily to change them immediately, but to understand that they are there and that we don’t need to be attached to them. Don’t mistake that for being unattached to the world, we need to be and feel connected because we are human beings but if we are attached to our attitudes, we forget we have a choice to change them, particularly if the attitude is not supporting us to be well.
Through my practice and through different workshops I have done in my HR career, I have found 3 main ways to assess your attitudes, and then 3 ways to approach shifting your mindset as or when you need to at work or at home (and if you’ve read my blog on Managing Stress in the Workplace, as part of my #yogaforofficeworkers series).
Step 1: Assessing your ‘mindset’ (or attitude)
- A mindfulness practice is a key starting point, take a moment when you wake up to lie or sit still for a moment, and become aware of what is happening in your mind, are you thinking about the next thing that you should be doing, are you considering going back to sleep and putting your alarm on for a later time, are you thinking about your to do list for work or something that worries you? Take a moment to simply observe, without judgement, and see what’s happening in your mind.
- When a difficult situation arises, see if you are able to recognise the emotions that arise for you, what we don’t realise it that through years of practice, habit and watching those who are closest to us we start to autonomously react to scenarios that we are faced with in our life with a particular emotion. For example, it could be anger, it could be sadness, it could simply be by not taking ownership that we played any part in it. There’s no need to do anything about that at this point in time (read below for what you can do) but see if you can notice it.
Ps. If you consistently think that you never handle it wrong, and that any of your ‘reactions’ are justified, I challenge you to take a moment to think about what THAT means.
- Take some time to sit down for 5 minutes, in your lunch break, or at home and think about what is one thing that lights you up? Allow the first thought, memory, moment to come into your mind, and just be aware of what it is. Once you’ve done that you might even want to write it down as a reminder, or at some point to think about why it lights you up, is it because of the satisfaction, the emotional outcome or because it just feels right?
Step 2: Shift your mindset
- There is no better time than the present right? And the best way to get back into the present is to focus on something that is always present, your breath. If you find yourself in that moment when something, anything doesn’t quite go as expected or planned, before you react (see point number two above) take a step back to firstly recognise the reaction that is about to take place and add in a deep breath. I recommend breathing in through the nose, feeling the rib cage expand sideways, forwards, backwards and then upwards towards your heart and lungs and then either releasing through your mouth (gently, and slowly) or if you’re in public slowly releasing through your nose.
- Another really great technique to start to shift your mindset is to get curious. I mean it’s nice to think we know everything but the reality is we don’t, when something or someone is troubling you, take a moment to step back and if needed, ask a bunch of questions to yourself or of those around you to seek to understand. Through understanding we start to break down the barriers, and through being curious we start to see things from a different perspective, even if we are only shifting our own.
- Take a break. This can be in the form of stepping away, taking a holiday, or simply making sure that you do something for you. Make a habit of getting out of the office, away from your desk for lunch at least once, if not every day and maybe even try to find a spot in the fresh air, or in a park nearby your office. And if all else fails, make sure that when you do take some time away from the office that you’re TRULY enjoying the space and separation from work. This break, or breathing space, will give you the chance to slow your mind down, and help you to see the bigger picture. That there is more to this world than just our work.
If you want to remember these tips and tricks, make sure to download your FREE Mindset Magic Postcard to put up on your desk at work.
You can also download the following versions below: