Is There a Place Buddhism in the Workplace?

men and women coworkers sharing ideas at meeting

Many people wrongly believe Buddhism to be a religion, when in fact, it is more of a way of living a good life and practice to follow along the lines of Sanatana Dharma – the eternal natural way. Buddhism in general has much to offer the world, and many of its major tenets and guidance have even entered the mainstream working environment in efforts to help employees make a living, but more harmoniously.


So, what can you take from Buddhism to help create a better workplace? It’s really about the dharma philosophy and worldview, which can help you put your thoughts and emotions in perspective for less stress and greater productivity.


Letting Go Of Anger


There is a saying that “holding onto anger is like holding on to a burning ember, the only person it hurts is the one holding on to it”. This basically means that the longer you nurse a grudge, the more damage it’s going to do to you mentally – and in terms of your productivity. Let it go and throw it away as far as possible. While this is easier said than done, emotions such as anger, worry, and stress will never change the outcome of a situation for the better.


Meditate For success


Meditation has been shown to reduce the number of stress hormones released by the body and create a more sound body and mind. You don’t need to sit on your floor and cross your arms and legs while humming, but you do want somewhere quiet to go. Take 5 minutes to sit with your thoughts, take in the silence, and focus your mind on positive outcomes. Practicing with a silent “breathed” mantra can help keep you dialed in when your mind wants to wander.  Meditation truly can change your outlook on things and help make for a better life.


Mindfulness Matters


While the daily grind of work may seem to pass by slowly, think back on the last couple of years on the job, or maybe at a previous employer: didn’t the time seem to fly by?  Do you feel like you maximized the potential of those millions of moments, or the potential for your workplace relationships?

It’s very easy to slip out of living in-the-moment.  Buddhism is all about mindfulness and taking not only your own actions into account, but the actions of everyone and everything around you. You need to become more aware of the things you say, the way you say them, and the actions you perform. All too often, people disregard the feelings of those around them, but those around them are their colleagues and teammates. Be considerate, be present, and watch as that consideration returns tenfold.


Sharing Is Caring


Buddhism encourages the sharing of everything with others, especially when it comes to food and drink. Sharing your food with your colleagues shows a caring side to you, which will rub off on them. To share the very things that give us life is to share our lives with those around us. We are taught as children to share our toys, share our snacks, share our crayons, but as we get older we forget how to share and only think about our own desires.  This also applies to work projects – share responsibility and success by collaborating with teammates.


Review the Entire Day


At the end of each day, take time to sit back and review all of the main actions and words which come to mind. Were you always constructive with your speech? What triggered you to feel stressed or anxious? Taking note of all of these allow you to avoid negative impacts in the future while putting those positive attributes into practice on a daily basis. With each daily review, you will not only begin to better understand your colleagues, but you will gain a better knowledge of yourself.  Take it up a notch by journalizing these discoveries.


Don’t think that you can’t bring Buddhist practices into work because of the religious sensitivity of the day. Buddhism is a lifestyle that enriches the lives of all those it touches – Buddhists or otherwise. There’s no call for bringing prayer onto the job, or any of the other more esoteric sides of Buddhist practice – only reflection on your actions and how they affect you and those around you. After just a short period of time once you’ve consistently initiated some of these mindfulness practices, you will notice real changes in the attitudes of those around you, but most importantly in yourself.