When I read that employees at Justice Canada were going to have access to training in mindfulness, you could probably hear my “woot woot” on the floors above and below.
Mindfulness has changed my life.
It’s made me happier at home and more productive at work.
It has decreased my stress and anxiety by, like, a billion percent, and it’s given me the space I need in my life to be more compassionate with myself and others.
In a nutshell, it helps me make good on the values and ethics of the public service, especially:
So even if I am getting the gears from a client or citizen, I can be compassionate, present, calm and able to help, instead of just reacting or being defensive.
Mindfulness is a proactive approach to stress reduction. And once you know how to practice it, you just keep getting better. It doesn’t require ongoing training. And, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to practice it.
It works like this: instead of waiting until the proverbial s*it hits the fan, with clients or citizens or whomever you deal with, you practice staying calm, focused and present right now.
Then, when you really need to stay calm, focused and present, it’s that much easier, because you can fall back on your practice.
It’s like working out any muscle in your body, creating muscle memory, except it is your brain and not your biceps. You learn to be the “watcher of your thoughts” before reacting to them. It’s valuable stuff. And, it’s especially key when you deal with the public.
Then, almost as quickly as this Justice Canada training was announced, it was cancelled.
Look, as a comms person, I understand the optics of it all. Public servants are already well compensated for their stresses. People don’t want to hear about it. We make great money and have excellent benefits. I get it.
But, my argument is this:
The public service needs to set the gold standard example of how to treat its workers. Instead of people getting up in arms about the benefits we get, I’d like to see them demand the same.
Maybe that’s a bit pie in the sky, but it’s also in the code on values and ethics: People values should reinforce the wider range of Public Service values. Those who are treated with fairness and civility will be motivated to display these values in their own conduct.
So, I’m sad that this innovative approach is on-hold, indefinitely. I think it could have helped a lot of folks.
I guess in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for following the buddha on Twitter.