Work can be one of the most difficult places to apply meditative concepts such as mindfulness, patience, and kindness. But work can also be an amazing testing ground for your attempts at meditation and other forms of self-improvement.
Unlike many meditation teachers, Matthew Hepburn has spent a lot of time in the professional world. He has worked at Apple and in the service industry. He’s also a long time leader at the Ten Percent Happier company and is the host of the new Twenty Percent Happier podcast. In this episode, Matthew talks about how to change your relationship to your thoughts; how to navigate the highs of praise and the lows of blame; how to handle relationships at work, including relationships that require you to give and/or receive feedback; and how to bring your mindfulness practice to your workplace, starting with something as simple as a cup of coffee.
And be sure to join Matthew in the seven-day Work Life Challenge, where you’ll get the chance to practice a meditation related to your work life, led by Matthew or Dawn Mauricio, another TPH meditation teacher and recent podcast guest. Download the Ten Percent Happier app now to join the Challenge for free.
The "Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World," online benefit for the New York Insight Meditation Center is on November 13 and 14. Register here to participate.
Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/matthew-hepburn-396
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This. Is the ten percent happier back ass, I'm Dyin Harris.
Hey, hey today, we're talking about how to do one of the hardest, but most rewarding things for most human beings to get over yourself and see contentious issues from somebody else's perspective. Meditation teacher Joseph gold seen as a pity little exhortation that sums this up nicely dont side with yourself. I love that expression. In my experience, not siding with myself is especially hard in a work context. I find my ego has the habit of digging trenches and refusing any offers a cease fire. In fact, work can be one of the most difficult places to apply any
Meditative concept, including mindfulness patients or kindness, many of us may be diligent, meditated or semi, diligent, meditated or aspiring meditated, and we might find that we get on a good streak of meditation practice, but then were humble
to learn that we are consciously or subconsciously more likely ruling out work as a place to practice.
However, work can be an amazing, crucible or testing ground or dough Joe for your attempts at meditation or other forms of self improvement, and we have the perfect guest today to do
this. Unlike many meditation teachers, Matthew Hepburn has actually spent a lot of time in the professional worldviews worked and service industries worked at apple
he's also a long time we're at the ten percent happier company most recently Matthew is the host of a new podcast called twenty percent happier, which is available exclusively inside the ten percent happier app.
he's here today, though, to provide the final interview and our five part work life series here on the podcast, the ten percent happier broadcast in today's episode, Matthews gonna talk about how to change your relationship to thoughts and in so doing how to reduce your sense of overwhelm
how to navigate the highs of praise in the loaves of blame, how to handle relationships at work, including, crucially, relationships that require you to give and or receive feed.
And how to bring your mindfulness practice to the workplace, starting with something as simple as your coffee cup.
Just to say, even though we are today wrapping up the work life series here on the podcast, there is still time to join the work life challenge over on the ten percent happier. App. In fact, Matthew is one of the featured meditation teachers in the challenge.
It's free and runs for seven days. Every day you get a brief video of me in conversation with either Matthew or Don Maurizio. Another meditation teacher who was recently on the show the video will then slide seamlessly into a guided audio meditation from either Matthew or dawn, which will help you put into practice what you learn in the video the challenge is running this week. There is still time to join and completed download. The ten percent have your app right now to join the challenge for free. I will get started with Matthew, Hepburn read after this. If you like me, you're feeling really cooped up right now. All I can think about is when I can go on my next vacation
I don't care if it's big or small. I just want to get away when you're ready to travel. You should check out price line. They can save you up to sixty percent off your favorite hotels and they even have exclusive deals on flights and rental cars. Price line makes it super easy to find a great price on your trip. They say every trip is a big deal and that so true, especially right now so visit price line to get a big deal on your next trip. If you're like me, you're feeling really cooped up right now. All I can think about is when I can go on my next vacation. I don't care if it's big or small. I just want to get away when you're ready to travel. You should check out price line. They can save you up to sixty percent off your favorite hotels and they even have exclusive deals on flights and rental cars. Price line makes it super easy to find a great price on your trip. They say every Europe is a big deal and that so true, especially right now so visit price line to get a big deal on your next trip,
Matthew, Hepburn, welcome back to show why thank you damn good to be together again. Likewise, yes, it is to retired about all the many ways in which work can suck and how we can make it suck less
you are well aware. That seems like way to dismal start and do not have to start so depressing, and I mean where they are value. That's her! That's fair work is not easy. That's for sure I can suck it can suck. It can also be glorious, and I think the point of this conversation is to move us more into glory, then
happiness. I hope so like a couple increments or lease like gets a momentum
and let the trajectory build because hopefully, work doesn't have to be a slug for the rest of all of our working lives, Agri art. So let me ask you a question that I think is gonna be top of mine
for you personally year at a point in your career with ten percent happier, whereas I understand it, you feel low, but pulled in many d.
since you ve got a lot of new things, you're trying your hosting a new podcast you're, you know taking on increasing responsibilities within the company, so that gets me thinking about this.
You have overwhelm how do you deal with that personally and how would you recommend others deal with it? Well, let me just start by talking about
it personally, because I know that I can just speak to my honest experience. It may be used for this
degree for some people- and you know four others. My personal situation won't be an
for yours, but I'm not somebody who can complain about my work life at the moment, and so that's really important for me to say first and foremost is that
I'm sure pretty lucky in that I got a lotta, exciting things to try out now. That said, what I expected
I career path to be within temper
and happier, and more broadly, is not what my current set of job responsibilities is actually looking like today.
And so you a girl ago, I was managing a small team of people. It
percent happier, and I was really enjoying growing in learning how to be a great manager and support people to do great work. That's really fulfilling,
me, and today I'm not managing anyone and in fact I'm working on very disparate projects every single day, and so my attention
being pulled from one thing: more, I'm working Consultative Lee on a project to another thing we're here
I put my name and voice and identity on the line as a host of new new podcast, which, as you know, pretty vote
above for me and not something that I would have been drawn to Now- wouldn't have created the circumstances for that. On my own, I wouldn't put that kind of pressure on myself, and
so anyhow, you know
it has meant for me is
really leaning into a lot of uncertainty and new things, and I'm doing jobs, for instance like pod
ass, toasting, which I have no business doing based on my resume, and so I'm also
position where I'm not just leaning into uncertain,
You can try new things, but I am also
finding ways to get comfortable and at ease myself and my professional life, with learning publicly being willing to be only
Ok right now and probably the worst podcast, so that I'll ever beak and I've gotta be equally so anyhow, a lot is changing and it can feel overwhelming at times, but that's only if I feed thoughts in mind that say
I've gotta be able to do more. I've gotta be able to do what I'm doing better than I am doing right now, and you know that's basically
mine constructed world, that's a world of misery and the more
I feed in it and live in it to overwhelm grows, and
the more that I actually relax back into the relationships at work that I trust to see. Skill sets and aptitudes that I've
developed over time that I can rely on in myself that I can trust and the more
They willing to learn and and humble unwilling to grow. You know just doing the best. I can and taking it moment by moment,
then I don't have to be overwhelmed.
then a lot there. That's very intriguing overweight,
Is that I'm probably not going reproduce this super faithfully, but something like mine created world, that's a land of misery and I don't have to feed it. Okay, so that sounds right. How do you do that? How do we mortals do it? Given that we don't have the meditation training that you have yes well there
Is he skill that I have developed in my own meditation practice and that practice has taught me how to recognize that a thought
in the mind, is not a real truth. That's not
some kind of universal law of how it is handed down.
By the universe itself. For instance, the thought could be
there's no way or ever gonna get all this done or the thought could be you release
that interview with Danaus you're never going to be a successful part that superfluous.
Or it could be your over committed. It could be a simple thought like that. That actually sounds like it has my best interests at heart, but the flu
ever of the way that had spoken in the mind and the intention behind it is just too so panic and fear. And so in my meditation practice, one of the trainings has been to start to recognise that a thought is just a fabrication of the mind that represents one potential perspective to take,
on our lives that we can choose to take her not, and for me, in my professional life and beyond, my professional life overwhelm is usually a palace constructed of thought and
the more overwhelmed. I feel it's usually because the more I missing the fact that these thoughts are perspectives that I can choose to believe it or not, and it's not always easy, and I go
live in a overwhelmed palace said most hilarious metaphor that ever come up doesn't feel much of a palace usually feels like a dungeon, but but.
You know when we recognise that it's all fabricated and constructed, and we actually
the inclination, the desire to come back to something simple and real and not panic inducing then we don't have to stay stuck in the dungeon Belarus push on that a little bit because, as you know, I have this magical ability to channel the thoughts of listeners, even though nobody's yet even listening to this
even in the future I can channel there, I can interpret that has come from your meditative acumen. You ve developed this preshent telepathic capacity well in the Buddhist scriptures. Advanced meditated are said to have the capacity to develop all sorts of superpowers, and this is just one of many that I've developed. I originally talk about it.
Ok. So now it's a little embarrassing. But anyway I do have this particular ability and one of the things that I'm imagining people might think. After hearing you
say well overwhelm us a palace constructive thoughts, but some of those thoughts really are true. Like a deadline is a deadline
and a negative review I got from my boss is what it is. So it's like. I can, or should put overly positive spends on these things. Yes, yes! Well! What I want to say is that the thought may in fact represent some truth, but the way that I said it is that the thought is just
single perspective that we might take on live. So imagine you're, walking down a path, and you come across a huge road block in the past and it six miles tall goes way into.
Stratosphere. You can't even see the top and Ukraine your neck and look up and think how the hell am I gonna get over this thing. That's one perspective. Another perspective sees that their soft grass on either side of the path and, if you
ten feet to the right. You can just walk around the thing you know and both are true and so
Maybe that deadline is looming, but maybe I've got enough of a trusting relationship and goodwill built with the person that I'm accountable to for this deadline
that I can say listen. I need a little grey sullenness. If you can't get
me and grace. I need some help on this. That is a different far that may be just as true same situation, different perspective and the consequence of feeding that perspective is not one of overwhelm
It's actually one of creative engagement with the situation, which may be no less difficult. Ultimately, but it totally changes
are in a world and when
in our world is one that balance creative engaged, responsive use
the outcome is gonna be way better than when the inner world is defined by over one. Some hearing, at least to operational, lies a bull pieces of advice. There wanting is interrogate your thoughts or you know, just don't take them as the be all and all and too
We know- and you mentioned this earlier, falling back on your relationships with the people with whom you work when you are in a state of overwhelm to see if you can get help or grace. Yes, yes,
Yes, I think you know one of the easy ways to stay mindful of thoughts in the midst of our days is just to see. How painful is it? If you have a thought, you noticed your getting real stressed out real worked up,
It's like, oh, that's, actually really painful thought to have that
be the alarm bell. That should be the mindfulness bell and then you can simply ask yourself what else is true in keep asking that question until you find other thoughts that are true about the situation that change your attitude in approach to it.
and one of the things that I absolutely recommend is taking on perspectives that incline us towards tapping the relationships that we ve built with other people. Most of our work is not completely isolated even
now, if you're, a writer working on a book alone in a cabin, you can call up even to mind the men towards you, ve had the people have been supportive and feel a sense of connection to the relationships that have been in
I don't live in a cabin, but I am a writer who mostly works alone and, as you were talking there, I was doing what I think is quite a natural thing to do as it filtering through my own experience and I feel a lot of overwhelm about being in the middle of a book, hopefully toward the end of the book, and knowing that I have this enormous amount
of work to get done and at once the order in which to do it. How good is it all these thoughts that can be very painful when they come up and, yes, it is very helpful to try not to take every negative thought at face value. It also helpful that kind of talk to my son,
off like a good coach and it is, is really helpful to recruit, thought partners or interlocutor reserve just other human beings. I can talk to a primarily for me, it's my wife, because then it gets it out of my head and into a conversation with somebody. I trust in. Why does that work for you? What actually? What's the shift? What happens right before you have that conversation and then, as you have it, what changes? I once heard about a study from again him Sean a corps was bid on. The show in the study was something
the effect of when you took people and had them look at a mountain or a hill, and you asked him how high it was. You got a certain Mansour when you put the same person next to somebody else and ask them to gauge the height of whatever is in front of them. It didn't seem is big,
I just think, given that we are a collaborative species, its wired, deepen or dna to work with one another attack we became the apex predator on the planet was not there were strongest, but that we can communicate and collaborate. I think,
just something deepen our evolution. Airily bequeathed wiring that feels relaxed when you share a burden.
yes, yes, I can totally related, listen just say I can.
Mostly relate to the opposite,
I mean I really grew up in circumstances,
I ended up internalizing
conditioning that the most laudable thing that I could do was
to totally of my own power. Take care of all my responsibilities and succeed,
in a way that was attributable.
me and meal and getting that message somehow through the culture of growing up.
I showed up in my life is a working professional as an adult.
Really trying to achieve
thing under my own power and missing the opportunity to build
meaningful relationships to ask for help to bounce ideas off of people.
really utilise the benefit of being a human whose connected to other people and.
It was really painful for me for a long time, and frankly, I say that I've seen that conditioning myself way outside of work as well, and it's been one of the things that has been a growth edge for me that I can say that has changed a lot over time is, as I've become, adults have learned how to have a conversation with
Good friend or a therapist or a boss, when something's really troubling me and that's not something that is naturally easy from me, and so one of the things
I just want a nod to is that for anybody who, like me, that really may be very uncomfortable to do and the first times that you do it. What might be scary? Ultimately, it really pays off because, as you say, all the mountains get smaller. I think I heard you say something recently that does away with you can think about asking for help as a kind of generosity, because when people help you actually feels good to them, so you're giving up
people, an opportunity to feel good. Am I restating your view correctly here? You ve got that right and like this is pretty counter intuitive. I really had to learn this from my own experience. I don't know that I could have taken it
on face value as just pretty words from somebody, but this is one of the most found
national values in the buddhist tradition, and so in my
journey as a contemporary,
learning about buddhist meditation practice. One of the things that I was taught
and then I learned is that when the Buddha taught meditation two people most of the time, the first thing he taught before meditation or even ethics was generosity. And he taught this practice of giving freely of yourself to others and all of his
aging supposedly are about freeing up the mind from struggle and suffering and crew.
getting more well being. And so the
dear. Their inherently is that the act of giving and also the internal feeling of being an altruistic, generous and spirit, is one that frees up the mine and feels good to us and as I practice that I saw that from
myself and then eventually as I started, to have a really authentic wish for
Everybody around me to be feeling good to not be struggling
to live with a little more ease in their life. As I was
and to learn that it was possible for me to live with a little
more ease in my life, and it felt like that. Wasn't you know a finite resource that I need to
for myself. I live about like yeah. I want everyone
to be doing a little bit better. All the sun was like oh
violent wishing well being for the
fuller around me. Then. I wish that they have the opportunity to be incredibly generous and all of a sudden
start to see a behaviour of mine in a new light, and this behaviour was when people would offer me something particularly help.
I would say: oh no, it's fine
go out of your way. I don't want you to feel put upon
not need to do anything extra to help me out in here's this condition again I'll take care of it on my own. I've got it under control.
All of a sudden. I saw that conditioning and totally new light. I saw your chest Matthew, depriving this person of the opportunity to offer something freely, to offer some generosity to say like hey, can I help you out
and to be met with yeah, absolutely you want to know what I'd love that, in fact, I really appreciate the you if you think back in your life any time that you, authentic Lee, wanted to help somebody
and they ve actually taken that in graciously it feels really good to help people, and so I have this shifting think
that was like look. May I never obstruct another person's generosity and in fact, may I give other people opportunities to express genera
it is to me and to anybody else. So if anyone wants to come over and do my laundry you're welcome
That is how you will make many friends
another thing you said you going back to the first question. I asked you about overwhelming how you deal with it. Is it's easy for this have lapsed into the realm of cliche, but recent cliches become cliche because their true is, you said something about.
taking things one moment at a time as an antidote to overwhelm. Can you unpack that a little further in this instance
the thing that didn't show up for me as just some good ideas
that I tried to map on to my work life? It came out of just watch
How the mind was making my life hell,
The way that I was working and just asking the question: how can I not do this if it hurts so bad and just
they generally in the enterprise of making our work life actually a source of well being. There are so many places where we see that
actually just making it much harder on ourselves and one way that I know
in my own mind was that I had a tendency to think about some period short medium term in the future and imagine all the things I had to do.
let's say it's a Tuesday afternoon I open up my calendar and I just look and I see well, I've got this.
In our view, dan- and I am not prepared enough and then I've gotta right these scripts for this meditation
I'm teaching a day, long meditation on Saturday, I've gotta meet with these students in the evening and I've got these other deadlines in the middle
In that moment,
My mind often will try and take on all of that time and say: can I do this? Can I handle this I'm collapsing about four five six days into one moment,
asking, can I handle four five six days right now? The emotional idea of four five or six days of work and no end
in a given moment. Actually, probably can't handle six days of work right, but in some way just the future. Thinking habit that I had developed in relationship to work did this through
ocean all optical allusive thing, to my mind, where I would feel like
I had to relate to six days worth of work in a given moment and I'd feel instantly overwhelm instantly overwhelm as opposed to thinking look between now and Saturday. I've got countless moments to meet whatever is needed for me in that particular mom
then I can ask do I have enough time to sleep for eight hours a night and you know break from meals and things like that and if I don't then I might say
get real worn out by Saturday and action
may need to move some things, but
I don't have to worry about doing all those things right now. I'm only gonna have to do one thing at a time and seeing that suffering freed me up to say, look, do your play.
Meaning whenever you need to do your planning think about those
days whenever you need to think about them and plan out. Do I have enough breaks? Am I gonna get up?
Things done that I need to get done in this time and what you're done planning take each moment as it
You'll see the mind jumping into future thinking, but it may feed overwhelm and simply recognise when the overwarm is being fuelled by trying to
get your wrap your mind around six days worth of tasks
and really you only need to wrap your mind around the next five minutes. You think the capacity to do a? U just described is supercharged by a meditation practice where your training in waking up to whatever is happening right now,
over and over again, I do and the reason why I think that it is trained in simple mindfulness practices, that much of the crux of the
access is seeing a compelling train of thought that we ve gotten totally absorbed into a mentor of mine. Just a cap,
to say that we inhabit a mine made world and we get into these camps.
living realms of thought and as our mindfulness practice. We practice just
letting that go not feeding
compelling narrative and instead than asking what do I notice that's happening right now. It might be really simple, feel the cool air on my skin. I might notice that after that compelling thought I actually really just wanna, take a deep breath and a breeze for a moment, and I can feel it. I can feel the body relaxing and then boom the next incredibly compelling series of thoughts pop up and then I practice
and I don't have to feed that and then there's an openness what's happening now and you practice that over and over and over again and its skill, you develop it. And so, when you are at work- and you think, oh my god, I can't believe it. I'm gonna have to tackle all this,
today at seven hundred and thirty a m, and this day seems overwhelming. Already, that's just a compelling thought in that moment. Right now, it's only seven hundred and thirty.
You only have to worry about seven? Thirty, two, seven! Thirty one:
no. What am I gonna dominant drink, a glass of water, and maybe I'm actually gonna- take a deep breath before I put my shoes on a walk out the door much more of my conversation with Matthew, Hepburn right after this these days,
Ten percent happier is busier than ever and finding the right humans to hire and minimizing stress is a big part of growing our business
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hey, hey it's Dan Harris from ten percent happier and you may have noticed that sometimes work can suck. So I would like to invite you to join me in
Free work, life challenge in the ten percent happier we want
you navigate worked stress and find a little bit more happiness in your data day every day, and this week launch
you'll get a short video from me and a meditation teacher followed by a short meditation download. The ten percent happier act from your.
Store and joined the challenge for free. We dedicated the first part of this conversation to overwhelm, during which time you talked about relying on relationships with your colleagues. I want a drill down on relationships with colleagues, because it can be the best part of work. It can also be the worst part of work, and so I'm curious how you, as a doormat teacher, whose deeply enmeshed in the work world
how you manage giving feedback or, as I believe you phrase it expressing yourself without exploding. What do you want to know? How do you do that? Because this is an edge area? For me, this is a growth
for me, where are you see me, do this, where I can get so cod caught up in my anxiety
he's around us doing things poorly or what I believe to be poorly, that I get Snipy as opposed to just being clear and nice member by nice, idle mean unclear or sugar coating, both like actually having the best interests of the person with whom I am talking in mind, while also giving them clear feedback this school. Have you ever done? Well,
these homes? Yet recently? Yes, I'm getting better at it. Well, what happened? Why were you able to do it? Well, what was it like? The captain I'll ask the question,
real quiet now, because he met me last night I had experienced where I realise that a work product that I was looking at wasn,
up to snuff from somebody who are really trust. One of the bad mental habits I've been trying to undo is, I have a habit of putting people in the good bucket or a bad bucket, and I could feel myself spinning off toward wow. This work that I'm looking at here is no good
this person and a bad bucket. They are here to forward a good budget like oh, no, that silly there's, probably some whole story for why this didn't go. Well, you should bring it up, but that I got into their heads face of a hair. I bring this up without hurting this personal feelings and it's gonna be hard for me to do. Maybe you better
is to sit on it, then I realized. While no that's the way you ve always done things as not being worked out very well, so
I remembered a piece of advice: it I've gotten from some communications coaches that I've worked with for many years with reference to name dropped on the show many times their names arm would deter undiscouraged, damn clergyman there should have darling,
reflected a communications coaches, and they often talk about when you're gonna be
delivering any message to somebody, especially if it's a tough one to think about and express your. This is their term here, positive intention, so that I call the person up and, I said, look I have a little bit of feedback I've giving it to you, because I care about
relations is a really important relationship, and I don't wanna be stewing on this in my own head. I wanted just get it out there because I'm sure there's a there's, a good reason for why I'm seeing what I'm seeing so here's the feedback and went really well. Yes! Well, that's what I hear
that is so value
there is that if you're gonna say something that may be difficult for somebody to hear,
if there are in the midst of feeling like between the two of you, you got each other's backs foundational. Please that's gonna be much easier to hear them.
if you're, just common in heart, from left field and data
have any idea what your commitment to their
overall well being is their relationship to this project? Is your relationship between each other, and so it's not, I think, just about establishing a positive intention. I think that that's really important
but for me I've learned that also reaffirming
establishing the relationship, and I heard actually you articulate that instead, like I want to share this, not just for the benefit of this process.
But for the benefit of your and my working relationship and that anybody can get
with you know, they may disagree with you, but people are gonna appreciate if you're thinking about that relationship as something to be invested in over it
and if you can communicate that in an authentic and real way, your people are gonna, be open, and you may say something there
grew with it, they may fire right back and you may end up in a heated discussion. But if you know, if you both know that you got each other's backs from the job with this whole situation, then
going to be able to arrive at some sort of solution that doesn't spiral out into an explosion are a bunch of drama
somebody feeling totally resentful and needing to
walk away and the things summers under the hood Fer a year or something like that right. You mentioned at you, used to manage people now now you're, not managing people so much, but you're working directly with people and collaborative way to really deep way. So how do you handle it? When you ve got some critical feedback to deliver two people? It depends on the relationship, that's for sure
or I think that I have heard. I don't think this is true in all my work relationships and I have room to grow, but I have heard from people that I work with that. They have appreciated that. I can't talk straight that I'll, tell people if I'm having trouble with something or something didn't quite work out right, and I have made mistakes in that room even here at ten percent happier, I can think of times. Where
I had some critical feedback to give and I delivered to a colleague in a way that really didn't,
and then they had to follow up with me in some, you like that wasn't go the way said that an usually it's, because I wasn't thoughtful enough about it,
aiming and how I delivered. So. One of the main things that I have learned from my mistakes is that it's really important to check in with people about is this a good time is a good place in. What's the way that you want this feedback, but giving people some agency in how they receive difficult feedback, it levels the power dynamic of whose giving difficult feedback and whose receiving it
one thing that I do but more than anything I did exactly what you are talking about a moment ago, which is centre the relationship and make sure
We know that we got each other's back and if I have a very close working relationship with somebody, I don't have to do that much groundwork around them.
anymore, and I can usually just speak freely, but what people that I dont work with as closely then I may have to start the conversation by saying: hey,
Thinking about this project were working on and I want to work together and I want this
you go well. I don't want you to hear about this from somebody else
I don't wanna sit on this thing and then later tell you that I didn't like it. I want us to be able to talk openly and then we have to feel it out together. But if you sent to the relationship is all possible, that's the main thing that I've learned till it
talking about giving feedback. How do you manage? That's when there's a power differential, you feel comfortable, and would you recommend others feel comfortable, giving feed back up the food chain up the hierarchy? It's really tricky I'll, say two things, and this is just really my opinion
I am one person but I'll bring my work experience and my lens, as Dama teacher also ESA, as a contemplative teacher to bear on this, which is that most workplace.
is our structured in a hierarchical way, and that puts some people in positions of power and some people in positions of relative Disempower meant in the context of their roles at work right and it's not a small thing because
talking work, we're talking about how you make the money that you make to pay for your medicine to pay for a year, housing to live, and so, when you are in a position of any relative disempowered around things that
as necessary and basic as medicine food shelter, that's not something to be taken lightly or cavalierly. And so in response to a question like this, I'm not gonna say it's real.
Important just to speak up and say whatever you feel and you got to be authentic and those things are true to a certain degree. But I also think that it's important for anybody in a disempowered position to be thoughtful and careful and and really they do- need to take care of themselves and includes me to certain degrees that work. There are relationships that I have at work of relative disempowerment and so
It's important to make sure that I'm thoughtful and taking care of myself and my needs
in my life and certain work relationships
It can be really tricky to give feedback to say things that are hard
this year. We all know what it's like to hear something that's really painful to here, and we totally reject it. Maybe we disagree, maybe we feel attacked. Maybe we feel its unjust for somebody to have said,
to us and when we react
We react out of wanting to totally reject the experience of hearing this difficult feedback and, if were in a place of a lot of power, sometimes we react to the
hey that other beings treat us come at us in a really strong wise. Let's say you are in a position of power,
because your human and a mosquito flies up and suck some of your blood right. You might just totally destroyed the thing. That's a relationship of
our imbalance or one being came up to you with the need expressed it right
and you didn't like it ages, crushed their life out of existence is something that many of us do often, and so I use that example, it's very extreme, but it represents.
and some of the worst of how we can unconsciously relate to each other in a pitched power dynamics, and so it so important if your disempowered to make sure that
the thoughtful and careful, and there may be a situation in which there is a relationship at work where it's not actually, that safe fur
you're overall employment to just say anything. So I guess the first answered your question is, I wouldn't say at any time just give
any feedback that you have no matter what the power imbalance looks like,
now. On the other hand, it
really painful and really detrimental for our overall well being if in the relationships in our life, we don't feel like, we can be honest and authentic ends.
now add in from a buddhist lens, honesty in itself is held as an incredibly high
Are you. There are many qualities that are very esteemed in Buddhism and
many kind of faux pause of ethical conduct that a person might make, and it said in buddhist floor
that over the buddhist many lifetimes before becoming a Buddha, he actual
we made all of the ethical foe paused that a person can make except one
is saying that which is not true, and so there is a real high esteem for the
importance for our well being, and none of others of not creating
more delusion in the world by not speaking truthfully, and so, if we're in a relationship at work or anywhere where we don't feel like.
can be real. It may have tremendous consequences for our well being and for the well being of others
So it's really important to look at hey. Should I be stand at a workplace where I don't feel like? I can be honest and forthright, and so what I would wish for anybody who is thinking about you know what often peoples.
times referred to as managing up in some ways in more direct way. Sometimes we do it in softer ways, but specifically in giving feedback to somebody who's in a place of relative power over us in the workplace. Is that I would wish for you to build a relationship with this person over time, where there's enough trust that you can give honest and direct feedback and
The thing that matters is the thing that we already talked about, which is censuring the relationship first and if there's a trusted mutual commitment to supporting each other as professionals and bold
people trust that usually it's safe, even within
A hierarchical pitched.
power dynamic between one professional,
to say what you really think, even if it somewhat painful to hear- and so my overall encouragement is, if you feel like there's people in your work life that you can't be
real with then number one. It's important to try and start to build the foundations, so that one day you can- and if you don't think, that's possible, you have to decide for yourself. Is it ok from me to stay in this rule in this place of work with people that I dont think that I can be truly honest with, or do I need to find a group of people that I can work with where I can be real and just to say that this notion of how to be clear with people and feedback is something that we're gonna be talking about and practising in the work life meditation challenge with Matthew? Another thing we're gonna be talking about in the challenge is a buddhist concept called praise and blame can
hold forth on that. Well you're, one of the things that I wanted to talk about in this challenge that we're gonna do we're. Gonna, try and develop a little bit of a healthier relationship to work and to feel a little bit more balanced in the midst
our work, life and one of the things that I really want to focus on was attending.
see that I notice in myself and in the people that many of the people that I've worked with, which is a tendency to crave. After
is that we haven't even gotten yet and to fear blame that, similarly, we haven't gotten yet, and
these factors of praise and blame are talked about in Buddhism, along with a set of six other polar
variances like gain and loss, pleasure and pain and fame ends disrepute, but not a word that people use very often, but you know it's like having a reputation tarnished, but so present blame or talked about alongside these other pairs of experiences that happen in a soul
do context, often not all of them. Pleasure and pain happened socially and not socially, but their experiences that we can't run away from
if were alive for long enough and usually it only takes-
you know a month to run through all of these experiences and some subtle way, but you're going to experience, pleasure and you're going to experience, pain, you're, going to experience, gain and you're going to experience, loss experience, praise from people and you're going to experience
and there are things that the mind can really rap itself around and the thinking
I love to try and use these things as way
to navigate and decide. What's important and what's meaningful in our lives and in fact
they're, just things that are going to come and go no matter what and often not totally dependent on our actions are sometimes, but not always so. This lands that comes from Buddhism is one that sees these things like weather patterns that come and go there all gonna be ever present and changing in our life and with that kind of economists or balanced understanding, suggest that maybe we don't need to define what's good or what's bad
our life based on how much praise or blame were getting- and I noticed this tendency in my own mind not just to love getting praised and hate getting blamed, which is tat. Most of us relate to these two phenomena, but more than that, if I'm working on a project- and it feels like
its representative of me as a professional or me ass, a dogma teacher or me as a person in terms of my character, my mind can start getting it
two imagining this is
gonna go well, and people are gonna. Think that I'm terrible- or I hope this goes so great and people
Love me. People will think I'm so exceptionally brilliant that I'm so hard working that I'm so capable- and both of these very you see
compelling trains of thought total
derail my capacity to actually focus on the work to be excited about the price.
that I'm working on an actually
bring my creativity bring. My inside bring my skill set. My experience to bear on the work that I'm doing, and so it so funny is that this obsession with the outcome and,
social reverberations that will come for it
your mind, the ultimate quality of the work that I'm doing in the first place, and so I want
to highlight and talk about these tendencies to get into craving after praise, we haven't gotten and fearing blame that we haven't gun. Yes all that, and if we think of praise and blame as impersonal as the wind.
Could that lead to some passivity resignation? Do we not need to do some affirmative reputation,
management on our own behalf? Sometimes I think it's good to care about
how we are received in the world. We don't want to say it doesn't matter how my
actions or my work impact other people. So no matter what praise I get, no matter, what blame, I guess, I'm just gonna, do
whatever I'm gonna do. But there is a real difference between saying here hoped
is helpful. I hope what I'm doing is beneficial and people tell me- and I really don't want this- to harm people or to just mostly piss people off, although sometimes
be actually a positive intention in our work to bits. People off
No, that's actually helpful in good thing to do in some areas at sometimes, but that recognition is very different.
then the feeling of cowering from potential blame that might come in
you make a mistake, or we do or say something: that's unpopular.
In our work, life or elsewhere. Much more of my conversation with Matthew, Hepburn right after this something, I think we're all missing. Right now is travel just getting out of the house out of the neighborhood and going somewhere.
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All missing right now is travel just getting out of the house out of the neighborhood and going somewhere new somewhere different. It doesn't have to be somewhere crazy, just somewhere that isn't here when you are ready to travel, you need to check out price line, it's an important time to save and you can get huge savings on travel when you book with price line. Price line can save you up to sixty percent off your favorite hotels plus they have exclusive deals on flights and rental car still, because when you get a big deal, you feel like a big deal, whether you are planning to meet up with old friends, fight,
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the core underlying theme of that work, life challenge and of this interview,
is any part of our lives- can be turned into practice. Meditation, Dharuma practice,
And there's a way in which they speak for myself,
I don't think I'm alone you can make the meditation into this precious thing you do in the special
teamed time. You know the fifteen minutes per day or whatever it is. You do, but you're not bring.
it into the hurly burly of your life, especially what for many of us are the most chaotic, stressful part of our life, which is work so anyway. You think I'm onto something here in terms of pointing to an important theme, I think you're, pointing to an incredibly important
we don't want to spend our life most of our hours, doing something that feels detrimental
to our well being just a train
crime in self care. You know in the time slot after Work- and you know, between dealing with the kids-
and all of our other responsibilities. We want a secure,
nation in our lives, where we feel like
generally. Our life is imbalance in supporting us to live well and to be who we want to be in the world, and I mean you can just stop and think right now for a moment if your relationship to work when not completely but just somewhat some significant amount, more balanced, more useful that there was a little more joy, a little more humor, a little more patients in your work, life alone. What, without due for the rest of your life over all workers, where we say
A lot of our time, if we're gonna, try and put time into not tripping ourselves up so much to being a little less anxious to having our energy be a little more balanced to feel a little more
Three, a little more generous than work is a really really rich area
and it's an area where we have a lot of consternation and frustration and on we and all the rest. So I frankly just see it as one of the most high potential areas of our lives, tin,
ass thin ass people who want to be happier or a serious contemplatives and wherever you fall on that spectrum. I totally agree
and were given all of the messengers of work with the interpreting.
density. Their creative demands demands our our time. The stress the high stakes, the power dynamics, just a great opportunity for growth and doing that will probably improve your work life in the process. You ve got a few little practices that I thought were interesting fur turning work into, but meditation practice. One of them has to do with noticing how often you reach for the coffee cup keys. Echo other
Yes, I have so many because I have been a working stiff, and you know in my heart, really a serious contemplative practitioner and of wish that I could spend my time just doing meditation but needed to punch the clock and pay the bills for a moment.
I guess all of my adult life really, and so I found all kinds of ways that I could under cover be work
Non free, my mind even alarm on the clock work for the man, as they say officially
make you the man did discuss. So
a million ways once you start getting. Creative you'll find in many ways, but I'll give you an example of one, which is this coffee cup example. Is that, as
you were all mammals right snaking. Our thirst is something that is inherently pleasant on a biology
go level, its reassuring and its pleasant and its soothing, particularly if you're a coffee drinker. You got some serious neural pathways,
that kick in and give you a lot a reward. Every time that you take your sippar coffee, and so, if you take a cup of coffee into a difficult works,
jewish and new may be somebody who, as meetings on the calendar regularly, so it could be a difficult meeting. You may be, you know, put in your coffee under the counter at the point of sale and check and people out or something like that right, but if you
got something like a glass of water, a cup of coffee. You can just bring it with you and for some period of time
that's maybe a little more stressful than another time at work notice. Every time you reach for it what's happening, mindfulness and all the contemplative practices are about becoming more
where the value system underlying these practices say that nothing is too small to learn from and pay attention to, and we never pay attention to some
in as ordinary is
how and when we reach for our coffee cup, but often if we pay attention, will see that we reach for it in order to soothe something that was on a very subtle level,
a little challenging for us. Maybe we feel a little nervous after we spoke up in a meeting or maybe there is some difficult tension between
one customer and co worker of yours and we reach for the coffee cup and when we start to notice that we all of a sudden get tuned into a much more subtle level of fluctuations in our well being
during the work day and one were tuned into a more subtle level of how we're doing we can actually care for and respond to the more subtle
Usually we only pay attention to real big spikes. Things go
really bad. We asked the boss for a break. We go take a walk right, but otherwise were just try a grid our teeth and make it through the day. But if we start paying attention on a very subtle level, all of a sudden we can see. I get a little bit nervous when my boss talks to me in that tone of voice and if we noticed that sure we can restore the coffee cup enjoys the coffee. But then we can also take a deep breath right drop our shoulders away from our ears recognised that my boss makes us a little nervous in that situation. Reassure situation reassure you know what they're just happened:
of day when we're a tuned to a different level of subtlety. All of a sudden, we can be creative and responsive about how we take care of our well being throughout the day, and that usually gives us
lot more staying power through the ups and downs in the difficulty a little more grit. It also makes us feel like were actually on our own team. We become our own ally at work,
start paying attention to how we're doing on a moment to moment level and the reaching for the coffee cup thing. It's just one doorway in to getting a tuned on that level. You made a reference to this before, but I think might be worth saying just a little bit more about it and I understand in your twenties, you got very interested in the dharma. You wanted to be somebody who is Dharma Bum, that's an affectionate term, Dharma Bum, somebody who's really just going from Long's island.
two long silent retreat. But you had student loan debt, so you needed to work and you work at apple. You did all sorts of jobs that I did all sorts of jobs you I mean I was a statistic coming out of the two thousand eight financial crisis, with over six figure.
Of debt. And I was in a position where I needed to work a lot, and I
didn't have a lot of earning power. I had left music school unfinished. I didn't graduate from college and so
I took a job in a cafe for a while. I worked in unpaid enter
ship very long hours in a recording studio, hoping that that would turn into account
here for me, and I did anything that I could really to say:
bringing in some dollars. Eventually I worked and apple retail, which was actually a great gig from me to teach technology on a small team of really bright people
but I was doing whatever I could. It took me a long time actually to really get on my feet
after leaving music school early in a economic recession and now you're stuck working for the man that
right work and for the man and spreading well being and pan am- I inform us that could be worse. I want to talk about. We recently at ten percent happier had an opportunity to come up with some internal values that we use on the team internally for how we do business and a few them struck me as may be worth exploring here. In particular, this value don't,
side with yourself, that's all we named it. Would you mind serve describing what that value is and why we chose it. Well, this
is a value that you know really
think. It's sorely needed at this time in are.
Country in the? U S, but also in the world more broadly, as people are becoming more and more polarized and entrenched in two camps of us and them. But this shows up in the workplace often, which is that the moment that we have a strong opinion
we hunker down, dig our heels in and say I've gotta advocate for this opinion against. You know all comers and unfortunately, that
creates a very combative and compelling-
have usually not in a good way kind of environment in the workplace. So, as we were talking about what some of the good things about working at ten percent happier are at times
and the other times go south and dont work so well. We noticed that when things are going well, people are actually holding strong opinions but very lightly in their able to perspective, take and listen to other people and listen, really deeply. Listen, authentically not just waiting to pounce on
You know the weakest part of somebody's argument, but actually to build out their idea with them and then come back to their original opinion and share. This value is more than anything about having some openness and flexibility, even when we have strong opinions, and this actually has real buddhist routes in some of the oldest historically teachings that are preserved and Buddhism, particularly of collection of teachings, called the attack of AGA one of the core values that the buddhas teaching about is not being attached to views and opinions and
he points out that people who are locked in to debating views and opinions are suffering a lot more than people who feel like they can have some space around any given view and to give credit where its due here, the phraseology of don't cyber yourself that comes from an obscure meditation teacher by the name of Joseph goals for face
one of our founding teachers at ten percent happier, let's just one more of our corporate values, because I also think this is a really interesting one. I'm gonna make it more family friendly than the phraseology we use own your crap. We use a different wording
crap but owning your crap. What does that mean to you in a work context? How is that useful? I think this is
really undervalued in a lot of areas in the world, then my world at least- and I think what we are talking about when we are talking about owning year, crap, to keep it p. E g is about having a kind of self awareness of what may be some of your own.
blemishes or the areas in which year not as strong or you may be struggling or still learning are growing. Having some,
self awareness about these in a way that is really on defended- and this is a real, powerful way to approach our work relationships and our life in general. You know we used the phrase warts and all to talk about understanding that not every thing not everybody is perfect and
you know it's actually. It makes me think of a of a story from my own work. Life is coming to mind right now, man, this is before I work for ten percent happier. I worked for a tech startup that had grown produce.
Frequently over the time that I was there and my department was being restructured and all
the different employees were being moved on to new teams in a totally new organizational structure and the folks who are protected this chain. Sure you know that
level positions in the company generally had a sense for the place that each person would be best suited and where they would go and each person
called in to a meeting with the senior vice president and a director, MR,
about where they would be going in the company, and there was some openness to where did each employee want to go a little bit a discussion about what made the most sense and when I came into the room,
that discussion. I had some more that I really wanted to go and it was different than what my boss and this other colleagues had in mind,
and I didn't know that yeah, but I came in and the first thing I did was, I acknowledged what one of my biggest weak points was ass, a employee, and I said here's what I want to go in a company, but you know, I think that there is one
thing that I struggle with that. You all need to see me really turn around for me to be able to go
there at the moment that I said that totally unsolicited it changed the tenor of the conversation where the two people I was talking to said. Oh wow. This is actually somebody who we don't have to do the brave work of giving difficult feat.
act to he already sees it. He's already got it under control and that change the quality of listening that they had for me in this moment, and I was able to share like these are the stepping stones. I think I need to get to
place, and I know it may not be what you have in mind for me. But I think this is how I'll get where I need to go, and
The conversation went well. That may not be the only reason why the conversation went well, but in that moment I had inexperience, where I did some
really vulnerable. I saw and myself something that was unbecoming and
Idle led in the conversation with just naming it because it's not personal. Ultimately it doesn't make me a bad person, but is an area that I struggled at work.
And as soon as I shared that it opened up the dialogue in a completely different way than it might have opened up before that I love it. That's a great story and it is very powerful to own your grab. It really is
arming, especially if you actually mean it well, I mean when I say I know you feel overwhelmed these days. We did a great job with this discussion and
really appreciate your time back you it's great to talk to your dad, I'm sure we'll talk again.
Thank you, Matthew. There was really really good thanks again to Matthew always great to talk to him before
had out- let me mention that today is the final day to join, be free work, life challenge which will teach you how to navigate your life at work without losing your mind, download the ten percent happier app wherever you get your apps right now to join. And, lastly, one additional note about an upcoming event. That is definitely worth your time in your support. It's called healing ourselves healing or world. It's an online benefit for the New York insight, meditation centre and its taking place this Saturday and Sunday November thirteenth and fourteenth its online. So you can join from anywhere
it grows include teepee age stalwarts such as Joseph Goldstein join a hearty and DORA Williams. I actually will be in conversation on Sunday with a really good friend mentor, fascinating author psychotherapist Doktor Mark Epstein who's got a new book coming out called the Zen of therapy.
So I'm really excited to talk to him to register go to and why I am see dot org and why I am see dot org will put a link in the show notes. The show is made by Samuel Johns Gabriel's Ackerman DJ caution
Justine, Davy, Kim Bike. Maria were tell engine point with audio engineering from ultraviolet audio books, you all on Friday, with a little bit more Matthew, Hepburn, we're gonna, give you a sneak peek at new episode.
Of his twenty percent happier show.
Transcript generated on 2021-11-10.