The Importance of Mindfulness and Compassion at Work: LinkedIn Speaker Series with Matthieu Ricard
June 25, 2015
Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk who left a career in cellular genetics to study Buddhism in the Himalayas more than 45 years ago. Often referred to as the “happiest man in the world,” Matthieu is an international best-selling author and a prominent speaker on the world stage. We were honored to have him sit down with our CEO, Jeff Weiner, in the latest installment of the LinkedIn Speaker Series.
In the interview, Matthieu spoke about our quest for happiness and the ways in which happiness is defined and pursued. Every person is seeking happiness, or more specifically, the avoidance of suffering.
And truth be told, there’s a lot of suffering in the world.
You may think that suffering only happens with those who you may not regularly interact with, but it actually includes all of us. You, me, the people we work with, all the people we interact with on a daily basis find ourselves suffering at some points in our lives. Suffering may be a result of an injury, illness or loss; it can also stem from some interactions with the people we work with. While the source may or may not come from work, it can end up in your workplace.
In most corporate settings, compassion, mindfulness, and the obtainment of happiness have become catch-phrases and tools to make more money, increase productivity, or pursue any number of short-sighted goals. And while it may be true that short-term, self-driven goals may be obtained while misusing the practice of mindfulness and compassion, Matthieu teaches us that only through altruism can we obtain true happiness for ourselves and for others.
So what are we to do? Matthieu presents a way to ease our own suffering and the suffering of others. How? Nurture and exhibit our inherent ability to be altruistic in our motivations, our actions, and our inactions. What is altruism? Put simply, it's the wish that other people may be happy; we can nurture it by practicing caring-mindfulness and exhibit it through compassion.
Caring-mindfulness can be practiced in every moment of our lives, but it is called a ‘practice’ for a reason; it takes time and repetition in order to make it a part of your life. Devoting time each day to a meditation practice allows our altruistic nature to come forth. This can be as easy as 10 minutes every morning. Simply sit in silence and consciously breath, counting your inhalations and exhalations up from 1-10, and back again from 10-1. Repeat this pattern for 10 minutes. During this time your mind will inevitably wander, when you recognize that it has wandered, gently bring your focus back to your breath and start the count over. Another way to practice caring-mindfulness is to take 10 seconds every hour to stop what you are doing and consciously breath. This helps keep your daily practice fresh throughout the day.
What you'll find through this practice is that exhibiting compassion becomes not a conscious decision, but a natural way to operate. You will gradually become more attentive to others in conversation, you will naturally find yourself caring for others, and you will see those people flourish along with you.
Watch the full LinkedIn Speaker Series video below and learn more about why Matthieu believes that altruism could be the saving grace of the 21st century.