Ever have one of those days at work where you dream of ways to get fired and depraved ways to make a splashy exit?
Yesterday was mine.
One of those days when uneducated underlings overstep their bounds?
One of those days (when people who know better) “accidentally” forward an e-mail to upper management?
One of those days, where as hard as you try, you can’t help but hear everyone’s phone conversations – and none of them are work related?
Under the fluorescent lights, the devil was raging inside of me and I had to make it stop. If there ever was a time to lean on my knowledge of Buddhism – this was it. I’ve podcasted in the past about The Five Precepts (download here), and today, I’d like to share how I rely on the power of Zen to slow myself down, keep things in perspective and avoid going postal (joke!). The key? Seated Zazen. Basically, a “light” form of meditation that you can easily get away with at your desk. The beauty is, nothing is needed. No incense, candles, beads or bells! Just you! The goal is to simply concentrate on what you are doing. When other thoughts creep in, and they will, just acknowledge them and let them go. Bring your mind back to the matter at hand.
Tune out outside noise and just concentrate on your breath.
Here are several things I do to help me bring myself back to center. Do they always work? No. But most of the time, it’s amazing how these little things can make a huge difference.
Walk the Hall. As soon as I feel myself start to simmer and get really worked up, I get up from my desk and go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t matter where I’m heading. The goal is to measure my breath by my footsteps and establish a rhythm.
Count Breath. Sometimes the task at hand makes it impossible to go for a stroll. In this instance, you can count breath. Make sure you breathe in deeply through your nose, watching your abdomen rise. Exhale evenly and count as you go. Sometimes it only takes three breaths. Sometimes, 300.
Assigned Time. Achieving equanimity at work is true challenge, and only achievable when you avoid extreme emotions – whether they are good or bad. One tactic is to set aside time everyday (schedule it in Outlook or on your cell phone) to be mindful. All you have to do is be aware of what is happening at that moment. It can be for as little as a minute. If a co-worker is annoying you, think about how that person is really different not very different from you. If you have a project that’s weighing on your brain, think about its true importance and whom it will be impacting.
Half-Smile. We’ve already explored the secrets of a fake smile, but a half-smile is 100% real. Fear not! It’s so slight that no one around you will even notice. The power of curling your lips sends a message of happiness through your body, short-circuiting negative feelings. Read more on the benefits of smiling.
It’s important to note that when many of us get angry at work, it’s out instinct to grab the ear of the nearest person and vent. While this might provide what feels like immediate relief, in reality, all you are doing is rehearsing anger – not reducing it.
We all tend to get angry at work – some more than others. Heck, that’s one of the whole reasons I started Jobacle and the Working Podcast, as a therapeutic outlet for my problems with the whole 9-to-5 concept. I promise you that by relying on some of the tools above, you’ll take the edge off of some tough times at the office.
One final thing you can do to reduce anger is to give yourself a Heart Sutra. This is a simple statement of love and compassion that you can say to yourself when you start to feel the fire of anger. It can be as simple as “I love my wife” or “I’m so grateful for my parents.” The statement is yours – so make it something that will let you enjoy a moment of gratitude and enlightenment.
As always, if you have tips on how you stay chill at work, please leave a comment below.