Put a little Zen in your workplace

By ELIZABETH PEZZULLO, Fredericksburg.com Oct 6, 2006

Fredericksburg, Virginia (USA) -- The good folks at The Five O'Clock Club--a career coaching service--have gone Zen on us.

This month's edition of their mini-mag, the Five O'Clock News, features an article written by Richard Bayer, author of "The Good Person Guidebook."

The book basically takes real-life workplace issues and infuses them with a little Buddhist wisdom.

Regardless of religion, there is a deeper meaning to this logic. So get into the lotus position--if you're physically able--sip some Darjeeling tea and read on.

According to Bayer, the chief "unhappiness factors" afflicting workers today are:

They don't earn enough money. They work too many hours. They fear losing their competitive edge.

Bayer addresses the first gripe head-on with some Eastern philosophy. One should aim to seek out some middle ground when formulating goals. You don't want to be poverty-stricken, but you also don't need to make $300,000 a year to be happy.

If you spend your time chasing the almighty buck, you may be clinging to what is "unreasonable, unfulfilling and passing," Bayer says. Lest you forget, the average per capita income in the U.S. is $32,400, he adds.

If you work too much, to the detriment of your family, are you putting your own needs first? Do you believe you're at the center of the universe? If this is the case, you may need to make an effort to be more compassionate to others or develop more social relationships, Bayer advises.

Do you spend your days trying to outsmart your co-workers? If so, you have the false view that competition with others is more important than being a part of the whole.

"The perspective of isolation logically cuts off compassion and heightens envy," according to Bayer.

Bayer recommends a few mental exercises to help you focus on your goals. First, write your own obituary. I know, never a pleasant task, but it gives you free rein to imagine how you want your life to unfold. Second, create the perfect job for yourself. This will provide more than a mere glimpse into how you should be channeling your energy. Also, decide what you would do if you had a million dollars. The way you spend it also sheds light on your priorities. And, lastly, look forty years into the future and create a vision for yourself.

Any of these will assist in honing your goals. And if this doesn't work, you can always ditch work and spend a few months contemplating your life under a bo tree, à la the Buddha.