Monday, November 28, 2022

Mindfulness: Bare Attention

One aspect of mindfulness is the cultivation of bare attention. Bare attention is attention that is devoid of judgment or elaboration. Whenever we are faced with a new situation, we are tempted to consider what this new situation means to us. Will it be pleasant, scary, long-lasting, or of minor importance? More often than not, we do not have enough information yet to make that assessment. When we start attempting to evaluate the situation before it has played out, this takes us into monkey-mind thinking which often leads to distortion. One component of being mindful is to approach any present moment with our full and neutral attention. 

Another way of thinking of bare attention is in the Zen Buddhist concept of “beginner’s mind.” To a Zen Buddhist, being a beginner is an ideal state because someone with no experience of something will also have developed no prejudice against it or other ways of placing limits on an experience. Since every moment of your life is unique, approaching each moment with innocence as if you are a beginner and this is your first time experiencing this moment allows you to keep yourself open to a host of possibilities that a more-experienced person would either ignore or never consider.

 Until next time ...

Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Concept of Mindfulness


People often confuse the concept of mindfulness with the idea that one should “stop and smell the roses.” However, if you found yourself with your nose stuck deep into a flower in a field where an angry bull was bearing down on you, this would be the exact opposite of being mindful. Put simply, mindfulness is a state of mind in which you are fully conscious and engaged in the present moment.

The concept of mindfulness comes to us through the Buddhist religion. The word “mindfulness” is one translation of the Pali word sati (Sanskrit smrti). Other translations include “awareness” and “memory.” Mindfulness is one’s capacity to avoid distraction from the present moment, but in Buddhism it also means to avoid forgetting what one already knows and to remember to do what one has an intention to do.

If mindfulness means avoiding distraction, what is it that distracts us from the present? People are constantly besieged with needs. Our basic needs such as food and shelter and our more complicated needs for love, respect, happiness, etc. all compel us to consider our past and future in terms of what to avoid and what to seek. Consequently, the tempting answer is to blame all the things going on in our world as the source of distraction. A Buddhist would disagree. Instead of everything that goes on “out there” being the source of distraction, Buddhists blame what they call the “monkey mind.” The monkey mind refers to our own mental capacity to engage internally in constant chatter.  Sometimes internal mental chatter can be helpful for working out problems, for analysis, and even for play. However constant mental chatter can also distract us from the things that are most important, and often, it can actually mislead us into misunderstanding a given situation. Buddhism teaches techniques in meditation to cultivate mindfulness and quiet the monkey mind.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Choose Happiness

Ultimately, the most important thing we can do to promote happiness at work is to choose to be happy. We all face difficult days and situations, but we choose how we react to them. We can choose to be miserable or choose to be happy. By practicing positivity and otherwise choosing happiness, we go a long way toward fostering happiness and contentment in our lives.

Happiness is a Choice

Happiness is a choice. We choose every day whether we will be happy or not. We may have unhappy, angry, or difficult moments, but overall, we choose whether we will focus on the positive and stay happy. When we choose to be happy, we focus on the good in our lives, including our work lives. Make a conscious choice that you will be happy in your workplace, and act on it. Decide what you would need to do to be happy, even if that means seeking other work. 

Choose Your Stress Response 

One of the things that undermines happiness is stress. We cannot choose whether we will have stress in our lives, but we can choose our stress response such as anger or panic, which will make us negative and unhappy, or we can choose positive responses, such as focusing on solutions, taking a time out, or even sleeping on a stressful decision. Explore different stress responses and choose some that help you stay focused. Not giving in to a negative stress response will help you stay happier and healthier and will lead to greater workplace happiness as well.

Do One Thing Every Day That You Love and Enjoy

Taking time each day to do one thing you love and enjoy goes a long way toward fostering happiness. Whether you do yoga in the morning, drink a cup of your favorite tea, visit a funny website, or engage in a rewarding hobby, finding something you love and making time to do it is key to your well-being. When we don’t take time to do things we love, our lives become a series of obligations. Taking time to engage in something you love and enjoy activates the parts of your brain associated with joy and pleasure, and this fosters an overall sense of mental and emotional well-being. 

Seek to Make Positive Changes

Happiness is a process. Even when we decide to choose happiness, it won’t happen overnight. Seek to continuously make positive changes in your life and you will find your happiness growing. Reward yourself for making changes. Happiness is a journey.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, August 29, 2022

Address Conflict and Learn from Situations

Address Conflict and Misunderstandings Directly

Nothing can poison the atmosphere in a workplace like unaddressed conflict, but conflict and misunderstandings are a natural part of working with other humans. Even with the best intentions, conflicts and misunderstandings can arise. One way to practice positivity is to address these issues directly and positively when they occur. Approach the person or people with whom the conflict or misunderstanding has occurred. Express that you want to find the best solution and clear the air. This may mean apologizing or seeking to make amends. Rather than seeking to place blame, keep the focus on finding a way to resolve the situation and restore the relationship. Directly and positively addressing conflict and misunderstandings prevents them from festering into resentment and grudges.

Look for the Silver Lining 

When we practice positivity, we attempt to find the silver lining in any situation. Finding the learning opportunity or other positive aspect of even the worst situation can keep us from sliding into negativity. Give people the benefit of the doubt. In a conflict or misunderstanding, assume that the other person has everyone’s best interests at heart. Keep the focus on the positive, and address problems or conflicts as they arise. When we look for the silver lining, it helps us refocus on the good in a situation rather than fixating on the negative.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, August 22, 2022

Moving Forward

Know When to Call It a Day

In this age of smart phones and tablets, even if we leave the office at our regular time, work can follow us home. It’s important to know when to call it a day. Checking and responding to email at night extends your workday into your downtime. Set a boundary that you will not check email or voicemail after a certain time. If you can avoid taking work home with you, do so. Don’t stay late at the office unless it’s a true emergency. When work bleeds into all other aspects of our lives, we can quickly become burned out or overly stressed.

Practice Positivity

Positivity is a like a muscle – you have to use it and build it. One way to help foster happiness at work is to practice positivity. There will be days this is easier than others! But with continuous practice you will find yourself in a positive mindset more often than not. When we practice positivity, people respond to us positively – it creates a feedback loop. Taking the time to learn some basic skills for practicing positivity is a worthwhile investment in your own happiness.

Keep Your Interactions Positive

By surrounding yourself with positive people and limiting your negative interactions, you are already taking a major step towards practicing positivity. Find ways to keep your interactions positive. Avoid office gossip and rumors, as these feed on negativity. Avoid complaining or participating in “whine fests” as well, as these interactions focus solely on the negative. When you do need to voice your dissatisfaction with something, try to find a positive note. If you are interacting with someone who is negative, suggest a more positive spin on the situation, or simply end the interaction politely. You don’t have to become Pollyanna – simply cultivate a tendency to look on the bright side or find the positive in the situation. 

Practice Gratitude

Taking the time to practice gratitude helps focus you on your blessings and the positive aspects of your day and your life. A gratitude journal is one tool used by many people as they learn to practice positivity. Take the time each day to list three, five, or ten things for which you are grateful. These can be major or minor, large or small. You can share your gratitude journal with others or keep it private. Some people like to have a list of things they are thankful for handy so they can review it on a difficult day. The continuous practice of gratitude helps keep you in a positive mindset even when life is challenging.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, August 15, 2022

Take Control of Your Career

It sounds simple, but one of the best ways to take control of your happiness at work is to take control of your career. Seek out opportunities to improve your performance, take on new responsibilities, or otherwise engage in work that is rewarding and fulfilling. Investing time and energy into your career growth and development can result in greater workplace happiness. 

Take Control of Your Professional Development

Set goals for yourself:new skills to master, new roles to try, or new positions to work toward.  Seek out opportunities for new training or education, and enlist your manager’s support. Create a professional development plan for the next year or even five years, and actively seek ways to implement it. 

Seek Frequent Feedback

Seeking frequent feedback is another way to take control of your career happiness. Being aware of what we are doing well and what we can improve helps us as we set professional goals. Draw on your support team to seek out feedback regularly. Rather than relying on yearly or quarterly reviews or waiting for a supervisor or colleague to come to you with feedback, ask for feedback on the completion of projects, after presentations, or when collaborating with others. Make an agreement with members of your support team that you will regularly ask for their feedback and that you will listen carefully to what they have to say. When you receive feedback, listen respectfully rather than preparing to respond. Then decide how best to act on feedback, both developmental and positive.

Practice Professional Courage

Professional courage involves directly and productively addressing conflicts, advocating for yourself and others on your team, and dealing directly and proactively with potential problems. Professional courage helps to promote open communication in the workplace. It also assures that resentments and grudges do not fester. Learning to practice professional courage is a leadership skill which can help prepare you for more responsibility. It helps you stand out as a leader who wants to promote successful workplace.

Seek Mentoring, and Seek to Mentor Others

Mentoring is a key aspect of professional development. When taking charge of your own professional development, seek mentoring. You might choose one mentor or several, depending on your development needs and your goals. Spending time with a mentor and getting their feedback can increase your professional growth and demonstrates that you take your professional development seriously. Having a mentor to help guide your professional development also helps create a positive, beneficial relationship. Seeking out opportunities to mentor others is also a way to take charge of your professional development, build leadership skills, and share your knowledge and development. Mentors and mentees can be valuable parts of a support team and can create personal connections in the workplace.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Make the Most of your Time at Work

Build Friendships

Building friendships at work also helps keep you focused on the positive. Having strong friendships at work gives you a built-in support network. Seek out colleagues and coworkers who share your interests, who make you smile or laugh, or who appear to share your goals and values.

Gym or Health Club Memberships 

Studies show that exercise is one way to increase serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Many workplaces include gym or health club memberships or discounts. Gyms and health clubs may also offer yoga, massage, saunas, and other services which promote overall physical, mental, and emotional health. If you have access to such benefits, use them. You will benefit from the greater physical and mental health that results from exercise, and knowing that you can schedule a treat such as a massage or pedicure for yourself can also give you something to look forward to after a long week at work.  

Use Your Vacation and Paid Time Off

Many people feel guilty about taking vacation or paid time off.  They may take it all in one chunk for a big vacation or cash it out when they leave a job. Studies show that people who take time off throughout the year are happier at work because they look forward to the breaks which provide time to reset, refresh, and relax. Be sure to take your paid time before any expiration date.

Employee Assistance Programs

Many workplaces have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs offer referrals to counseling services for employees in crisis as well as information on other mental and psychological health services. Your EAP may also offer legal advice, information about resources such as gyms and health clubs, and other key resources that foster employee well-being. Many people only draw on their EAP when they are in crisis, but the EAP can be leveraged even in the best of times.

Explore Other Benefits

Employee benefits extend beyond health insurance and the EAP. Many workplaces offer membership to a credit union, direct deposit, automatic savings deposits from your paycheck, discount memberships at wholesale clubs, and more. Your workplace may also have access to travel discounts and other services which you can use to make your life easier. Using your benefits to save money, time, and stress can contribute to greater overall happiness at work. In addition, knowing that your workplace values its employees and seeks to better their lives can make you feel more positive about the organization.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP