26 July 2016 -


How you can find happiness right now, and why it can drive you on to future glory in your professional and personal life

Guest bloggers Matt Tenney and Tim Gard

Mindfulness training affects every area of leadership in some way because it improves self-awareness, attentional control, and other aspects of mind function, and everything we do or fail to do is a result of how effectively the mind functions.

Based just on the improvements to self-awareness—which is arguably the most important leadership skill we can develop—we might conclude that mindfulness training is the ultimate success habit and that devoting time to mindfulness training is the best investment we can make because it positively influences so many areas of leadership excellence.

However, often I refer to mindfulness training as the ultimate success habit for reasons other than its effects on professional success.

One of those reasons is that mindfulness training helps us develop unconditional happiness. Yes, being happier helps us be more effective professionally, especially as leaders.

But happiness is ultimately much more important than professional success.

Reflecting on this for a moment, we could conclude that happiness is one of the primary goals of our lives. Actually, isn’t everything we do essentially motivated by the aspiration to be happy?

Ultimately, why do we pursue professional success? Because we believe success will help us be happy. Why do we seek out relationships? Because we believe relationships will help us be happy. Why do we look for meaning in our personal and professional lives? Because we believe that meaning in our lives will help us be happy. Why do we want to make more money? Because we believe more money will help us be happy. Why do we work to become a better person? Because we believe that becoming a better person will bring happiness to both others and ourselves.

Unfortunately, it seems that the message we hear all too often is that happiness is an if-then proposition.

If we do something or get something, then we’ll be happy; this message is severely flawed.

The truth is that happiness is available right here, right now. Happiness requires no condition outside ourselves to be met.

Mindfulness allows us to realise this through our own experience. When we are able to tap into the happiness that is always available to us, we realise that the treasure we have been searching for all our lives is something we’ve always had. We just didn’t realise it. Discovering this truth is incredibly liberating.

With the continued practice of mindfulness, we gradually realise with increasing frequency the happiness that is always available.

We realise one of the primary goals of life, which makes the practice very enjoyable. At the same time, the practice is rewiring our brains in ways that make us better leaders and better human beings.

It doesn’t really matter what our motivation is for beginning the practice. We may want to be better leaders, and we’re okay with discovering unconditional happiness as a side effect. Or, we may want to realise unconditional happiness, and we’re okay with becoming better leaders as a side effect.

Either way, if we practice correctly, the results will be the same. We will gradually realise unconditional happiness with increasing frequency, and we will become better leaders.

This is an edited extract from The Mindfulness Edge: How to Rewire Your Brain for Leadership and Personal Excellence Without Adding to Your Schedule by Matt Tenney and Tim Gard, PhD (published by Wiley, 2016, RRP £16.99)

Powered by Professional Manager