In this global economy with virtual meetings, social networking, and hyper-competitiveness, it is encouraging to see a large corporation choosing to embrace mindfulness. This mindfulness training is seen as a means to increase productivity as well as employee happiness.
Google’s popular course called “Search Inside Yourself” was designed to teach emotional intelligence through practical, real-world meditation. But this is not about sitting in the lotus position reciting “Ommmmm.” Instead it is a pragmatic approach for raising awareness in order to be more productive and happy.
Based on curriculum from his popular class which has been offered to Google engineers for the past five years, Chade-Meng Tan wrote a funny and practical book titled, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace).
What I find particularly compelling about Chade-Meng’s book and course is that he applies these ancient principles in the 21st century workplace. He believes that we can all achieve inner peace (and ultimately world peace) as well as become more productive in the workplace setting.
According to Chade-Meng, the course has been able to provide the knowledge and practices that can increase creativity, productivity and happiness. The book promises readers will learn to:
- Calm your mind on demand
- Improve your concentration and creativity
- Perceive mental and emotional processes with increased clarity
- Discover that increased confidence is something that can arise naturally in a trained mind
- Develop optimism and resilience necessary to thrive
- Deliberately improve empathy with practice
- Learn that social skills are highly trainable
This mindfulness is developed through learning the skills of emotional intelligence, which I’ve written about in previous posts. Based on the neuroplasticity of the brain, what we pay attention to gets done. What we think, do and pay attention to actually changes the structure and function of our brains. And like any training, practice is required for this to take full effect.
Mindfulness, according to Jon Cabat-Zinn, means to pay attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. This enables you not only to become calm, but also more and creative.
A successful practice supports reflection over reactivity, encourages feeling your feelings rather than acting on them, and opens awareness to what is really going on. This means slowing down to notice. Any mindfulness is good mindfulness.
If Google has seen fit to offer this free course to its employees for more than five years, they certainly must have vetted its overall effectiveness. Analyzing qualitative data such as happiness is extremely difficult, but I suspect Google has found that those who have completed the course are in fact more productive.
And I strongly believe happy employees are indeed more productive employees.
You can see an hour-long presentation about this by Chade-Meng in this YouTube video.