Peace is not something you wish for. It’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away. -Robert Fulghum
You can pick your friends, but you can't always pick your colleagues. You spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else, and you often rely on your colleagues to help you do your job well. At work, people of different characters and behavior meet causing a multitude of emotions within us. Then we bring our own baggage into work too.
Do you lose hours of productivity each week? Do you operate in states of chaos at work? Are you distracted by the phone calls, social media, and emails at work? Do your own thoughts distract you? There is a reason people look forward to their vacations – a place/time where/when they feel they can get away. We shouldn’t have to wait for that annual vacation to achieve peace!
You can learn to gain inner peace and enjoy every moment, right where you are. You can stop fretting and getting tense. You can experience peace of mind and happiness wherever you are.
Let us become intentional about creating order and peace at work. Cultivating a peaceful environment requires a lot of work but once you gain inner peace, you will notice your environment starting to change too. Here are 12 suggestions to help you experience and achieve inner peace at work:
1. Look inside. Quit looking around! Stop analyzing and thinking about people's motives and behavior; focus on improving your actions. Your mother taught you the golden rule, didn’t she? It starts with “do onto”…you take the first step!
2. Create a daily morning routine. Get up early enough that you have time to take care of yourself (quiet time, breakfast, exercise) and leave your living area in a way that you won’t dread coming home to. Each day as you walk from your car to your desk, repeat a positive affirmation. When you arrive at work, acknowledge your co-workers with a cheerful hello and smile and grab a glass of water (or something healthy) before starting your work. Let them know that you notice them and appreciate them.
3. Get focused from the beginning. When you arrive at your office, don’t turn on your computer and open your email right away. Instead, sit down with a list of what you need to accomplish. Mark and schedule your top priorities for that day. Don’t let other people’s emergencies throughout the day distract you unless it is legitimate. Learn to recognize what can wait. In the military, I remember a common saying - Piss poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Respect your time and the time of others!
4. Be polite and respectful. Spread your good attitude. People unconsciously emulate the behavior around them, and emotions are certainly contagious. Pretend a 4 year old is watching you. You must maintain good manners. Always work at least as hard as anyone working with or for you. Make it clear that you would never ask anyone to do a level of work you wouldn't be willing to take on yourself. When I attended the Air Force Academy, we made a habit of never asking a basic cadet to do any physical activity that we could not do ourselves. When we asked them to do something, we got in the trenches and did it with them at least once. They respected us a lot more as a result. Another element of respect is timeliness. Always be on time to show you respect other people's time.
5. Control yourself. Whenever you feel tension or anger building in you, take some deep slow breaths before any talking or action. Pay attention to your mind and spirit. When you find yourself getting “passionate”, lower your voice, Focus on using positive words in writing and speech.
6. Take breaks. Walk away from your desk and get a breath of fresh air or a cup of water periodically. Don’t neglect your body’s need to exercise and eat healthy. I had a colleague who would ask me if I needed to take a walk to the building coffee shop when he noticed that I seemed to be getting stressed out at my desk. After the walk was over, I always felt a sense of relief. Now I do the same for my colleagues.
7. Talk to and with (not about) people. People love to be asked their opinion, so go out of your way to ask what they think. I always remember Oprah saying that all people want to be heard…we all just want to be heard. Be heard in a positive way. Express your good ideas in a way that makes it clear that they are not the only good ideas; recognize and make it apparent that you believe others may have equally good insights to add. And when they're talking, listen intently. Retain the trust and respect of your colleagues by not being known as the office enquirer or gossiper.
8. Create comfort. Declutter your physical space. Make your work environment an efficient one. Get rid of old books & materials that can easily be found online and items you no longer need. Make room for items you use regularly. Keep a personal photo or two at your desk to remind you of home and loved ones.
9. Recognize people. Don't withhold credit from deserving colleagues. Be the first to acknowledge excellent performance. When you are incorrectly recognized, direct the attention to the colleagues who do deserve the credit. Recognize the small and big achievements. They are all important on some level.
10. Be human.Talk with your co-workers about your life outside the office when it's appropriate as a reminder of the humanity factor. At the end of the day, we are all human with basic wants and needs that are sometimes facilitated by the money we earn at work. Showing a genuine interest in people will make them feel comfortable around you. And, it’s the right thing to do. Trust me when I say that your colleagues know who genuinely cares about them.
11. Be positive. Assume the positive about what you don't know – for example, at my job we always seem to be talking about how our bosses don’t know what’s going on or that another site doesn’t seem to be working hard. While the results sometimes seem to indicate these things, they still may be untrue and no one benefits from the negative thinking or portrayal. Also don’t be the “party of no” at work. Stop finding ways not to do work and ways that success cannot be achieved; be creative and bring fresh ideas to the table instead of the stale cynicism that plagues many organizations.
12. Disconnect from the results. This is probably the most controversial of my suggestions. I believe if you can disconnect from the outcome of your work, you can be happier just knowing that you did your best. If you did your best, then you can learn to do better next time if the outcome was undesired. You cannot give more than 100%. Sometimes even when you give all you have, it is still not enough for some people, but it has to be enough for you. Even if the outcome is not as expected, you have to disconnect from wanting the outcome to be different. It is what it is and there’s no need to beat yourself up over it. Free up your mind to tap into creative spaces the next time around!
Ms. Bhakti Mary
I am an optimistic, positive, generous and driven woman who is passionate about self-improvement.
The essence of who you are does not lie in the past. What matters is what you are willing to do NOW. You are the presence.