Take a few deep breaths and then read this, to fully appreciate the message.
Engineer Chade-Meng Tan began working at search engine Google when it was just a promising start-up. Google encourages engineers to use 20 percent of their time to work on their own pet projects. Tan used his time to help create "Search Inside Yourself," a course designed to improve employees' emotional intelligence through mindfulness so they can be happier and more productive.
Tan knows about happiness. Working in a high-stress, fast-paced world, his official title is "jolly good fellow (which nobody can deny)." He teaches this course and wrote the New York Times' bestseller "Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)."
"Mindfulness helps clear all the chatter that goes on constantly in your head, and you begin to find out what's real for you in your life," he said in an interview with The Business Insider. "What makes this program so great is that it can effect long-term evolution in individuals, and therefore, in the organization. It's provided more purpose and meaning to what I'm doing at work."
Tan continues, "The most noticeable change in the largest group, which included scientists and some of the foundation team, was a shift from cynicism to hope. When people talk about what happened to them or how it's changed them, they talk about how they went from being negative, pessimistic and cynical to being hopeful, being more centered."
Sounds good to you? Tan recommends these mindfulness techniques.
1. Learn how to be calm on the inside, through your breath.
"The ability to arrive at a mind that is calm and clear on demand is very useful," Tan says. "The analogy is a deep ocean: The surface is choppy but the bottom is very calm. If you're able to go deep inside, you can access that calmness and exist in a world where you can be calm and in action at the same time." Tan claims it's easier than you might think. "It comes from mindfulness, and mindfulness is about the training of attention in a way that allows your mind to stabilize. Three breaths, every now and then. Or even every now and then be aware of taking one breath. You don't have to train very deep."
2. Build your emotional resilience to deal with failure.
Failure is inevitable although most of us try to avoid it and may therefore play it too safe. "If your job involves innovation, that always entails failure," Tan says. "Begin with the recognition that failure is a physiological experience in large part. For me, it's tightness in my chest, my stomach dropping, a lack of energy. I feel horrible. And the reason I feel horrible is because of the sensations in my body."
When you recognize failure as a physical experience, you can use your breath (see #1) to calm the Vagus nerve, which regulates physiological stress reactions. "Let go of the sensation. Consider emotions as simply physiological sensations, that is all. They may be pleasant or unpleasant, but they are simply experiences. Just let them come and go as they wish in a kind, gentle, and generous way. If you can do that, you can become more resilient to failure."
Tan emphasizes that letting go is not forcing something to go away. "Instead, letting go is an invitation. We generously allow the recipient to choose whether or not to accept the invitation, and we are happy either way. When we let go of something that distracts our meditation, we are gently inviting it to stop distracting us, but we generously allow it to decide whether or not it wants to stay. If it decides to leave, that is fine. If it decides to stay, that is fine too. We treat it with kindness and generosity during its entire presence. That is the practice of letting go."
3. Wish success for others.
Tan explains that people are more likely to want to work with you and help you if you sincerely want them to succeed. And it goes beyond your coworkers or anyone else you know. "Looking at any human being: 'I wish for this person to be happy.' The reason is to create a mental habit so that when you see someone, your first thought is, 'I want this person to be happy.' The people you meet will pick this up unconsciously."