If you want to live in optimal balance, you must be in charge of your mind and work, not the other way around. I call this mindful working. A calm state helps you cultivate a peaceful center from which to live your life. When you’re chilling, your heart rate and respiratory rate slow down. Your mind is open and clear, and actions and decisions are reflective, even, and balanced. As worry and fear recede, a blissful serenity makes everything seem right with the world. It’s important to note that you only have bursts of this state. It would be a mistake to think that you can live in a constant state of chill. But the more you practice mindfulness, the more you can access the chill state even in times of upheaval. And the more productive and healthier you become.

Most of us experience the pain of self-doubt, rejection, and disappointment from time to time on the job. Humility helps you accept whatever you’re reacting to exactly as it is. And accepting the outcomes, instead of resisting them, reduces your suffering, empowers you, and frees you. 

Think of a disappointment or disillusionment in your work life. Then settle in a quiet place to meditate on the letdown. As you focus on it, spend a few minutes imagining yourself as a grain of sand in the universe amid the awesomeness around you. Meditate on the notion that there’s something much larger than both you and the letdown. Then bring self-compassion to the disappointment and see if you can accept it in your heart and soul.

A friend told me, “I’m in a job where I’m always behind. You might say if I blinked, I’d be behind, but the truth is, I don’t have to blink because I’m always behind.” Do you feel snowed under at work? Constantly behind the eight ball? It’s helpful to watch the words you use to express work woes. They give a window into your mind’s eye. When you say, “I’m always behind,” you can overwhelm yourself with the message that you’re somehow at fault, have done something wrong, or aren’t doing enough. You have the power to create your experience of the job. If you identify as a helpless victim at the mercy of the workplace, you become miserable. If you think of yourself as strong, you can ask, “How am I treating my job?” and notice the shift in how you feel.

My friend removed the oppressive feelings of her job by reframing her work situation with “The position I’m in is one in which many people might feel behind much of the time.” Do you need to reboot your mindset so you’re not personalizing job stress? When you takeaway the self-talk’s oppressive nature, you free yourself from feeling trapped and enhance your feelings of self-confidence.

Excerpt from #Chill: Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life with permission from the author and publisher.

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  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: https://bryanrobinsonphd.com.