Our work is an area of our lives that we may not immediately think of as a natural place to find peace and joy. Not everyone can necessarily say they are doing what they love, and even those who are, still must deal with the stresses of everyday work life.
Outside of work, many of us seek an approach or methodology that will lead us to feeling lighter. But to be light, we first must be solid. And that same understanding can be applied to where we spend so much of our time – at work.
That’s why it’s necessary to create a firm foundation on which to build our lives, a foundation that will tell us who we are and how we can achieve a more free-flowing way of life. It’s by laying a foundation for being rather than doing, that we’re able to act more naturally, without having to overthink what we do.
The truth is that we’re so inwardly focused and directed at self, that we constantly feel overwhelmed by cares, worries, and anxieties. Instead, it’s essential that we remove the focus on ourselves and understand the importance of selflessness, which becomes the unifying thread between each of the following five principles – and allows us to remove some of the burdens and anxieties we carry, no matter what we do for a living.
In many ways, kindness is the key to all of the other principles – and everything else in life. Abraham Lincoln once wrote, “Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out. It will wear well and be remembered long after the prism of politeness or the complexion of courtesy has faded away.”
Guided by compassion and achieved by letting go of judgments, kindness lightens our minds and becomes its own reward, as we feel better about ourselves. At work, whether remote or in person, use the power of imagination to consider what a fellow employee might be going through before judging.
A friend recently shared a story of a meeting where a working mother was on a Zoom call only to be interrupted by a toddler who ran into her home office. She quickly ushered her child out and returned to the call, but not before receiving head shakes and eyerolls from others. An empathetic reaction would have gone a lot further – and been a lot kinder. Instead, the contempt that was shown changed the dynamic of the meeting much more than the brief, lighthearted interruption.
Try letting go of your judgments with those you work with and demonstrate more compassion. It will impact your teammates, and even be the kindest thing you can do for yourself.
The feeling of gratitude builds directly off of kindness, creating a natural flow for being. Ultimately, gratitude depends on developing an awareness of what you have in life and the good that is already around you. By helping us become more in tune with the things we should be thankful for, gratitude helps us become more present in the moment. When we develop this mindset, things become much simpler, and we let go of the need for controlling the events of our lives, which allows for a more light and free sense of being.
Some business leaders start their first meetings of the week with an exercise of gratitude, where each person shares what they are thankful for. It sets a certain tone and creates a decidedly more positive energy amongst everyone. While this may not be appropriate for many business’ cultures, it’s still possible to foster a feeling of appreciation for those you work with, by simply acknowledging efforts that may have previously been taken for granted.
Famed businessman Henry Kravis said it well, “If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing. You can’t buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing.”
The foundational principle of integrity provides a solid basis for consistent decision-making by living your core values and forgoing the rationalization that ignores basic truth, honor, and respect. At its heart is decency, as integrity induces us to take responsibility. By doing so, we build a strong default for our choices, removing much of the grey area and ambivalence we often face.
In business and in life, our word must mean something. This simple truth can have a profound effect in how we choose to respond to situations, no matter how complex or delicate. When we say what we mean and mean what we say, we become dependable and trustworthy, traits which transcend any business.
When we think about humility, it has much to do with our perspective on life and how it can recenter our purpose by reducing the size and scope of misplaced self-importance. Humility creates a context for everything we experience by helping to understand our own significance – and insignificance – in the grand scheme of things.
At work, humility can be elusive because of ego and hierarchy. If you’re struggling with an overinflated sense of self, try listening to others a bit differently. It’s often easy to spot the individual who is clearly preparing their response before the person speaking has finished. In this instance, they’re not just failing to listen, but more importantly, to really hear.
If you can develop a sense of perspective on your role in a business, it will allow you to come to terms with the reality that although we’re all unique and special, you’re no more essential than anyone else. Try being a bit more situationally aware in these circumstances and you’ll find that we can learn much more from listening to – and hearing others than we can from ourselves.
The principle of acceptance is based on our ability to accept what is and let go of what isn’t. By embracing flexibility, we allow ourselves to cope with change because it roots us in reality and relieves us of impractical expectations. Acceptance ultimately helps us to acknowledge the truth and change the narrative of the stories we tell ourselves. As a result, we become more sensible, practical, and mature.
Day to day, we’re often required to multi-task which can lead to holding conflicting feelings. It’s this flexibility that provides for a bend or stretch in our minds, which is useful in carrying competing emotions. By developing such a recognition, “we feel it first”, allowing us to let things go much easier and make peace.
To be sure, William Shakespeare’s wise words ring true to this day, “Things without all remedy should be without regard: what’s done is done.”
And so it’s possible, with open-mindedness, to make a conscious decision to build a foundation for peace and joy in a way that is both manageable and effective. These principles are foundational, and therefore fundamental to our being.
Just as important, they are principles that we can incorporate into our lives in a way that feels natural and instinctive, helping us to understand our place in society and our purpose for being. It gives us a perspective for viewing the world around us with an attitude of abundance and objectivity. Can you imagine the positive energy that can be integrated into your workday as a result?
Joshua Kramer is the author of The Unicorn in You, a new “Unself Help” Guide that was recently recognized as the #1 New Release on Amazon in three separate categories: Conduct of Life, Psychology Reference, and Self Help. To learn more about his five foundational principles as a path to peace and joy, visit www.theunciorninyou.com or connect directly with Josh at www.joshkramer.com.