Wellness

I feel extremely lucky to work for a company who walks the talk when it comes to Wellness. This month, September 2018 we focused on Wellness and Mindfulness at LinkedIn during our traditional Inday.

First, click here to hear a word from our sponsor: 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Lydon,

Sr. Director, Engineering Operations

Here are just some of the events we have planned: 

 Mental and Physical Wellness via Triathlons with Michael Lydon!


Mindfulness

Research has shown that practicing mindfulness promotes positive emotions, reduces stress, and can positively impact our physical and psychological well being. “Mindfulness is the simple act of focusing all of your attention on the present. This requires you to observe your thoughts and feelings objectively, without judgment, which helps you to awaken your experience and live in the moment. This way, life doesn’t pass you by.” – Dr. Travis Bradberry

What does research tell us about Mindfulness?

Research has shown that practicing mindfulness promotes positive emotions, reduces stress, and can positively impact our physical and psychological well being.

 

Is Mindfulness meditation?

Meditation is a mental workout used to enhance and practice mindfulness.

How does Mindfulness benefit me?

Think about being aware and present in each of life’s moments. From our responses to potentially volatile situations, to giving into food cravings that are counter to our goals. Compelling studies showing it is transformative of our health and well being, psychologically and physically. See below for research that shows the scientific research supporting the benefits of Mindfulness.

How can my lifestyle support Mindfulness?

It is not always easy to be mindful when there is so much on our minds. Many times our mindfulness comes more easily when we do not have worries on our mind. Financial stress, emotional stress, relationship issues, proper breathing, the right movement program, being hydrated and eating life giving foods. Are all ways that you can set yourself up for success in being a mindful person.

UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Center

Stanford – The center for Compassion and Altruism Research

Cal Berkley – The Greater good science center 

5 Ways You Can Use Mindfulness To Fix Your Brain, Reduce Stress and Boost Performance

How To Practice Mindfulness At Work: A Four Week Guide

 


Article written that originally appeared on the Blog of The Meditation Trust. The article speaks to the effect meditation has on our emotional intelligence.

The original article can be viewed here.

What is emotional intelligence (EI) and how does it impact on learning and success in life?

There are several conflicting opinions on what EI is and how it effects development and achievement in life; it has also been suggested that EI is a better predictor of success than IQ. Although there may be disagreement about what the term actually means, there is little doubt that having a better understanding of your emotions – and subsequently handling them in a more efficient manner – will attribute to success, both professionally and personally. Research shows that 90% of top performers are adept at managing their emotions. When under stress, top performers remain calm and in control.

Seeing how successful business leaders manage their stress and workload through meditation, and how meditation can have a significant impact on stress, we continue the theme with this discussion about how learning the skill of meditation will improve your emotional intelligence through the ability to remain calm and possess greater self-assessment.

What is emotional intelligence?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, emotional intelligence is:

The capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically; emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success.

Although emotional intelligence, as a term, is claimed to have been created by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990 [Perceiving Affective Content in Ambiguous Visual Stimuli: A Component of Emotional Intelligence, 1990 and Emotional Intelligence: Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 1990], the origins can be traced back to 1964 when it was first mentioned by Michael Beldoch [Sensitivity to Expression of Emotional Meaning in Three Modes of Communication, The Communication of Emotional Meaning].

However, the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ [Daniel Goleman, 1995] elevated the popularity of the term into everyday discussion after Mayer and Salovey’s 1990 journal articles.

Although there is discussion surrounding whether EI can be a predictor of success over IQ, it is certain that becoming aware of your and others’ emotions will improve interpersonal relationships. This, in turn, improves workplace interaction and, subsequently, will attribute to work success. As mentioned above, the ability to remain calm under pressure and to maintain control is a trait of top performers and leaders.

IQ tells you what level of cognitive complexity a person can manage in their job: you need high levels for top management, the professions and the sciences, whilst lower levels work fine in lower echelons.

“Emotional intelligence (or EI) sets apart which leaders, professionals or scientists will be the best leaders.” Daniel Goleman

What emotional intelligence is not
Whilst emotional intelligence and understanding your own emotions better attributes to remaining calm, EI is not, in itself, calmness; it is not happiness, optimism, agreeableness or other personality traits.

Emotional intelligence is the insight into and understanding of how your emotions can positively, or negatively, impact your life and capacity through your behavioural skills. EI is the process of recognition and assessment. It’s not a term that represents a state such as blissful happiness or contentment. EI is awareness.

Emotional intelligence, as we described it, is the capacity to reason about emotions and emotional information, and of emotions to enhance thought.” John D Mayer Ph.D.

When do we learn emotional intelligence?

EI is considered to be an established intelligence, improving as children grow; and children are generally expected to acquire these skills as they develop – but from where? If a child is learning behavioural patterns from an emotionally dysfunctional family/environment, then their ability to cope with emotions will most likely be modelled on what they are exposed to; a cycle of low EI is perpetuated.

On this basis, there have been campaigns in the US, since the early 2000s, to have emotional intelligence taught in schools as part of the learning curriculum. Various school bodies have implemented trial programmes, but most educational bodies want to see years of evidence which prove that it will be successful, before widescale adoption – it’s a ‘catch 22’ situation.

The formulaic approach to structured teaching doesn’t always equate to the flexibility which emotions and individuals need; the very nature of emotions means that one size does not fit all. Hence, this is why we have such difficulty with emotions in the first instance and why some children have such difficulty in the socially rigid structure of a state school.

There is no doubt that skilled handling of emotional skills will improve behavioural skills, interpersonal skills, the ability to make better judgements and decisions, and thus attribute to more success in life. The introduction of emotional intelligence learning for children now would have a huge impact on the EI of subsequent generations as those skills were passed on.

Until that time, it is only a degree of fortune in the quality of one’s environmental exposure that determines the outcome, unless self-motivated personal development can reverse the effect of impressions of past experience (commonly called stress) which are the cause of lowered EI levels.

There is no doubt that skilled handling of emotional skills will improve behavioural skills, interpersonal skills, the ability to make better judgements and decisions, and thus attribute to more success in life.

How do Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation increase emotional intelligence?

On the Level of the Problem:
Mindfulness, the practice of training the mind to be ‘in the present moment’ and therefore becoming more aware of everything, including our emotions and habitual thought patterns, can begin the process of preventing further deterioration and the start of recovery.

Addressing the Cause of the Problem:
Stress is not an external event or something that ‘happens’ to us – it is a deep physiological impression in the nervous system (sometimes called a cellular memory) caused by our reaction (fight/ flight response) to past challenges which, if not rebalanced puts us in a state of emotional high alert, where we are more prone to irrationality and extreme emotional reaction. Therefore something more is needed. Learning the practice of Transcendental Meditation, which allows the mind to go beyond the ‘present moment’ into deep levels of silence accompanied by profound levels of physiological rest, will dissolve layers of deep-rooted stress, and enable us to break the self-perpetuating cycle of negativity and anxiety.

Becoming less reactionary to ‘stressful’ (challenging) situations
By becoming more emotionally aware, balanced and rational in our approach, spontaneously more ‘in the moment’, our reaction to events which are out of our control changes. We remain calm and less affected by external events. We think more clearly, our emotions do not control us and we manage our emotions much more effectively.

Becoming free of negative thought patterns
Being more aware of our emotions and thought patterns, we see situations more objectively and by choice, but gradually more spontaneously, react in a more intelligent and mature manner and no longer be controlled by dysfunctional patterns.

As we become calmer and more balanced, we have more available energy for our relationships with others:

Becoming more adept at reading the emotions of others
Good interpersonal relationships are essential to happiness in personal life and achievement in work life. Being able to progress in a career without interacting with others is almost impossible. The ability to read an employee’s emotions is vital to good management and essential in high-level business negotiation. By becoming more detached from negative thought patterns and reacting in a balanced manner, relationships improve dramatically as a result of higher levels of Emotional Intelligence.


Brain Training

“You can think of fitness training as changing the molecular and cellular building blocks that underlie many cognitive skills,”

The holy grail of brain training is something that does transfer, and here there are three good candidates. The first is physical exercise. Simple aerobic exercise, such as walking 45 minutes a day three times a week, improves episodic memory and executive-control functions by about 20 percent, finds Art Kramer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Exercise stimulates the production of new synapses, the connections that constitute functional circuits and whose capacity and efficiency underlie superior intelligence. Kramer finds that a year of exercise can give a 70-year-old the connectivity of a 30-year-old, improving memory, planning, dealing with ambiguity, and multitasking.

The second form of overall mental training is meditation, which can increase the thickness of regions that control attention and process sensory signals from the outside world. In a program that neuroscientist Amishi Jha of the University of Miami calls mindfulness-based mind-fitness training, participants build concentration by focusing on one object, such as a particular body sensation. The training, she says, has shown success in enhancing mental agility and attention “by changing brain structure and function so that brain processes are more efficient,” the quality associated with higher intelligence.

Finally, some videogames might improve general mental agility. Stern has trained older adults to play a complex computer-based action game called Space Fortress, which requires players to shoot missiles and destroy the fortress while protecting their spaceship against missiles and mines. “It requires motor control, visual search, working memory, long-term memory, and decision making,” he says. It also requires that elixir of neuroplasticity: attention, specifically the ability to control and switch attention among different tasks. “People get better on tests of memory, motor speed, visual-spatial skills, and tasks requiring cognitive flexibility,” says Stern. Kramer, too, finds that the strategy-heavy videogame Rise of Nations improves executive-control functions such as task switching, working memory, visual short-term memory, and reasoning in older adults.

Can you build a better brain?