The Value of Being Present

As Winter Break approaches shortly, we are all given the opportunity to reflect on the past year and also practice being present with our loved ones. It is a reminder that being present is not easy for many of us. It is especially difficult within the workplace, as we are all often juggling multiple tasks, thoughts may wander about our next meeting, or worries may be on our mind about future changes.

Matt Killingsworth, Ph.D., studies the nature and causes of human happiness. Killingworth’s research states that our moment-to-moment experiences influences our happiness, versus the major conditions of our lives. In fact, he argues that mind-wandering (which leads us to not being fully present in our lives) can be a powerful predictor of one’s unhappiness.

15,000+ people were a part of Killingsworth’s research study. He found that 47% of participants thought about something other than what they were current doing or working on. The research found that there is a correlation between mind wandering and unhappiness and that “…people are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when they’re not, which is unfortunate considering we do it so often.” Killingsworth argues that when our minds wander, we typically focus on unpleasant things that negatively affects our well-being.

Check out Matt Killingsworth’s TED Talk on “Want to be happier? Stay in the moment.” Pay particular attention to his findings starting on 5:52 of the video.

How can we consciously choose to be more present in the workplace?According to the Greater Good Science Center here at UC Berkeley, enhancing moment-to-moment awareness may improve work environments. 

Here are 3 things that you can do today to be more present in the workplace:

  • Start off a meeting with this icebreaker question: “What do you need to share with the group right now to allow you to be more present in this meeting?” This will encourage staff to share something that may be stuck on their minds. This information can bring lead to a better sense of community and transparency. 
  • Practice “Level 3” listening with your colleagues and staff. In coaching, the listening is completely directed to the other individual; you are completely present, and your own ideas or agenda is not in the way of hearing this person. Moreover, you are picking up on the body language, tone of voice, hesitations, and energy of the other person.

By the way: here’s a chance for you to be present with your Student Affairs Colleagues at our second Community Conversation that will be held on February 16! The focus  will be on our current culture. Register today through Eventbrite!

 

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