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I’ve been attending a class at Duke to learn about mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, and today is the last day. It’s bittersweet. I’m grateful for the experience. My personal and professional relationships have improved over the past ten weeks, and I’m making better decisions. But being mindful is exhausting.

Part of me feels like there’s no going back to the old way of living. Stressed, rushed, and making stupid decisions where I’m not breathing or thinking through alternative ways of coping. Another part of me welcomes the return of long summer nights on the porch, drinking champagne and wondering why I can’t move forward with my life.

Dammit.

There’s a clinical program where I could learn how to apply mindfulness to my start-up company. We are helping teams (and, really, people) make better decisions at work through our online platform. It’s exciting stuff.

But it’s not quite ready for commercialization. In the interim, I’d have to apply the coursework to people. Unfortunately, thanks to my ten-week MBSR course, I’m now mindful of how fundamentally pissed off I get when people ask me for advice and don’t take it.

Why are you wasting my time? If you made good decisions, you wouldn’t be asking me for help. So maybe just shut up for two seconds and hear what I have to say.

At the same time, my MBSR class has made me mindful enough to see that sometimes people ask for advice because they don’t know how to ask for a blessing and support. Would it kill me to take a breath and nod my head?

Yes, it does kill me a little bit.

I’m working hard on offering up a little loving kindness and wishing people good luck on their journeys. I would rather not know about your problems instead of knowing about them, offering good advice, and being ignored. That doesn’t feel very good, and it hurts to watch you suffer.

Which is why GlitchPath is so very near and dear to my heart. Prophet is rarely recognized in its own house. You won’t listen to me and make better decisions, so maybe I can create a mechanism where people proactively reflect on what might go wrong and then fix their behaviors.

Gary Klein says it works. My earlier user testing is positive. Lots of companies apply the premortem to running clinical trials, building bridges, and constructing aircraft carriers. NASA uses it, too. I never thought that analyzing language and behaviors could help people beat failure, and I never believed that beating failure could be so mindful. I’m glad to learn that I was wrong — being mindful can change lives.

So, in that way, my MBSR class has truly changed my thinking. Maybe I will enroll in the formal foundational program. I just wish I liked people more. Ugh.

2 Responses to MBSR Changed My Life
  1. Vadim Liberman

    Great post! In my experience as a giver and receiver of advice and “advice,” most of the time the person with the problem just wants to be heard — and sometimes that’s under the guise of seeking advice. Often, as you point out, it’s enough to just offer words of kindness and support.

  2. Lena

    I did my undergraduate degree in Business Psychology with a specialization on HR and my thesis was actually about the possible effectiveness of the MBSR course in the working world. I loved researching about it and I love seeing the topic come up on your blog!