8 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Practice Mindfulness On Business Trips
Is it possible to be mindful when you’re on a business trip? Whether driving or flying, opting to be present in the moment while traveling for work can seem more stressful than anything else. Work travel is filled with delayed flights, traffic jams and long lines, to name a few stressors. How can you stay in the moment with all that going on?
You’re already in the moment, even if you don’t realize it yet. Mindfulness is the act of open attention placed on the present, observed without any judgment. All you have to do is notice what is happening right now and go with it. And there’s no better time to embrace new experiences than while traveling. Here’s how to tame your monkey mind to be present and actually enjoy what’s happening around you.
1. Imagine you have transparent thoughts.
Picture an early morning work flight where everything goes wrong. The TSA line is so long it nearly causes you to miss pre-boarding, your Starbucks order gets messed up and a toddler is screaming in the row in front of you. It’s a safe bet to say that the thoughts in your mind are frustrated ones.
However, if everyone could see what you were thinking, would you continue to think negatively? This is where transparent thoughts step in, a tactic suggested by social psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D. for creating mindful management.
Langer states that if people could see what you were thinking, you would not think bad thoughts. Instead, you would try to understand things from another perspective. Transparent thinking means categorizing everything that upsets you as a tragedy or inconvenience. If your Starbucks order wasn’t correct, ask yourself if it’s a tragedy or an inconvenience. Since it didn’t keep you from missing the flight or truly ruin your day, you can chalk it up as an inconvenience.
2. Appreciate the wait.
Each year, Americans spend about 37 billion hours waiting in line. Waiting, even for a short amount of time, plays up our emotions -- boredom, impatience and a twinge of hopelessness. When mindfulness means being in the present and you’re stuck in line, how can you stop feeling like life is passing you by?
Learn to appreciate the wait. Savor moments where the only thing you are expected to do is be right here right now. Focus on details you might have hurried past and enjoy the one mindfulness act you can do from anywhere: breathe.
Why does breathing remain the most tried and true mindfulness exercise? Jay Dixit, science writer at Psychology Today, sums it up in that breath is always with you. By focusing on breathing, you orient to the now and become one with the present moment.
The universal nature of breathing means there’s no place or circumstance where you can’t pause to inhale and exhale. Focus your breath. Close your eyes and breathe in out and slowly. Pat attention to the feeling of the air entering and exiting your lungs. Let your body relax and enjoy the rhythm of your breathing.
4. Think before you eat.
A business trip diet isn’t exactly a sterling example of living your best life. Whether you’re picking up lattes and snacks at the airport terminal or staying at a hotel surrounded by chain restaurants, it’s ridiculously easy to pig out.
The act of eating is a huge mindfulness opportunity, and one that is done either mindfully or mindlessly. Even on busy days, set aside time to eat with no outside distractions. Note how you consume the meal. Do you take large bites or small ones? What is the texture of the food like? What time did you eat? By taking a closer look at how you eat, you allow yourself to focus on the meal and keep it from becoming a blur.
5. Avoid making a checklist.
For avid to-do list makers, this might sound like terrible advice. However, Langer notes that checklists are actually more mindless than mindful since most of the items are not acquired in that moment. Avoid viewing a checklist as something to cross off and approach it as something that needs qualitative information that can only be obtained in that moment.
6. Keep a daily journal.
If you don’t have one already, begin keeping a daily journal. Start the morning with a little writing or wind up in the evening with your own internal dialogue on events that transpired throughout the trip. Focus on recording sensory aspects that you might forget in a week’s time and check in with your thoughts and emotions. Tuck it into your bag as you go as a reminder to keep writing.
7. Give yourself time to move.
Mindfulness and exercise make the perfect pair because paying attention on purpose means paying attention to each part of your body. Create a simple routine that relieves and refreshes you. Most people traveling for business won’t have a spare yoga mat or dumbbells handy, so a few easy exercise ideas to get your blood flowing include stretches, a brisk walk and yoga.
8. Create mindful compliments.
It’s late and your flight home has been canceled. You’re trying to book the next available flight with the customer service rep at an airport. The representative is doing everything she can to accommodate you, but frustration is wearing your patience thin. So, you take a moment to focus on your breathing.
You glance at the representative’s name tag and notice a pin next to it. It’s shaped like a pineapple. You tell her how much you like the pin and her eyes light up at the compliment. The two of you chat briefly about the pin, which the rep picked up in Hawaii. She helps you find a flight and you leave feeling like you made a real connection.
Langer says that when you are mindful, your commentary reflects that moment. Small talk about the weather is nowhere as effective as a specific comment, like the pineapple pin. When people receive a compliment, they recognize that you are right here right now which is what mindfulness is all about.