Every experience you have is of the mind. Whether the experience be physically demanding, exhausting, exhilarating, energy-draining, or tragic, it is always a mental, emotional experience. The Olympic champion will punish his or her body and, no doubt, their emotions and spirit too. The musician, artist or craftsperson will express their talents in creative ways. But in the final analysis it all comes down to the satisfaction, or not, of the mind.
Pressures on the mind have dramatically increased to a level never experienced before in human history. This new world of constant fight and little flight is taking its toll. The daily news reports provide all the evidence we need of the effects of this trend - depression, mental illness, suicide, violence...need I go on?
There are people who declare they cope just fine, some even embrace sustained stress as what drives them but the jury must surely still be out on the extent to which the mind can cope.
Four significant issues are affecting the mind at work:
- You are increasingly employed for what you can do with the mind more than what you can do with hands. The mind is now the core of your business
- The flexibility of working hours, locations and the sophistication of communication technology is encouraging employees and employers alike to use the mind for business at any time of the day/night and on any day of the week.
- The line drawn between work and personal life is increasingly blurred. The mind simply switches hats at any time to address the most demanding problems, be they work-related or personal
- The idea of having a work life balance lifestyle that keeps the mind strong simply isn’t working. Demands on our time are growing within an inflexible 168 hours a week.
There has to be a better way. Every person needs to source enough sustained mental energy not just to survive but to grow, flourish and blossom despite these pressures. A sort of road-side service station that’s available any time for a top-up when the mental energy tank is getting low.
The mind has a natural energy resource found in the enjoyable pursuit of passionate interests and your natural-born talents. You of course can and do use them at work. But don’t undervalue the surge of natural positive energy you get from putting your mind to a passionate leisure interest in which you are in total control of what you do for the sheer intrinsic joy of doing so when, how, with whom you wish or alone and for whatever outcome you want.
Such experiences do more than energize you. They provide an amazing array of benefits to mental health and resilience, lift self-esteem, self-confidence and reassert your sense of self-worth. You see things in a better light, changing your perspective and confidence to deal more effectively with stress-related problems and responsibilities.
Leisure pursuits have had a bad name in business for far too long. The world has changed and the true benefits of leisure are again assuming their rightful place in ensuring the productive development of work, personal growth and a strong mind.