I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the same clients for a long time now, and I went to see one of those clients today, in an office in Times Square. I’ve been visiting this group for nearly 3 years, and our typical session includes a 30-min stretch and a 20-min meditation. I hold this in their main conference room, so people have to make the conscious choice to leave their work and take this break. Not surprisingly, they don’t all come running.
We all struggle to step away from our work and feel like it’s “okay” to take a break. I always think of Arianna Huffington on this topic, who - after totally collapsing from exhaustion - revamped her own life and wanted to create a culture of wellness at the Huff Post offices. In order to do so she created lounges where people could rest, but noticed they weren’t being used despite her encouragement. So, Arianna began leaving the blinds open when taking a nap in her office to let everyone else know that it’s okay to take that kind of break; and it worked. Suffice to say, our healthy habits rub off on people; it’s not just about what we say but what we do. You might not be a boss or a parent or an “influencer” but you never know who’s watching, so walk your talk, and let folks see that you walkin’.
But that’s not really what struck me about my visit today. Today was a different kind of visit, because we decided to do a “floating stretch break,” which we slip in every now and then to mix it up. This is where I walk around the entire office (an open office layout with low-walled cubicles) and encourage folks to get up for a quick 5-min stretch sesh with me. I tackle the office in small groups, and usually get anywhere from 2 to 10 people at a time. It’s a generally much more energized kind of session, and I enjoy it because I get to see people who never come to our conference room sessions.
It was about 2:57pm and I had made my way through the entire office and stretched with all willing parties when I walked through the large space one last time to say goodbye to my main contacts there. On my way through, I noticed a whole group of work stations that had been empty the first time I came around was now fully occupied, so I asked them if they wanted to take a quick 5-min break with me. “We have a meeting in 3 minutes," they said.
“Okay, how bout one minute then?”
They looked at me a bit puzzled, so I just dropped my bags on the floor and said “get up!” and we proceeded to stretch for one minute. So simple. So not gonna set them back in their work. So easy to find ONE MINUTE to pause, to breathe, to reach your arms to the sky, to roll your shoulders around, to get the blood moving and just take a break from whatever it is you’re doing. One minute.
They still looked at me like I was crazy, but they did it, and I’d bet they felt way better and charged up going in to their meeting. I felt good, too, because I could have easily brushed it off as “not enough time” or “don’t want to bother them” or any of the other excuses we find in these scenarios.
Earlier this week I was listening to my friend’s podcast, Semi-together, in which they talk about growth mindset vs fixed mindset. While I was previously familiar with these terms, their breakdown really resonated: a fixed mindset believes that traits and abilities are relatively set (“I’m not good at math”) while a growth mindset believes that traits and abilities can be developed through effort (“I can learn if I work on it”). I used to tell myself things like, “I’m just not that kind of person,” when it came to results I wanted to achieve but didn’t think I had it in me to get there: fixed mindset. But what I have learned is that I am any kind of person I want to be: growth mindset. I learned that you just have to start. You try. You take one minute and that turns into five which turns into ten which turns into twenty. You add a *little bit* more greens to your plate. You walk a few extra blocks or take the stairs. You get up 5 minutes earlier so you can sip your coffee slower. You read for ten minutes before bed, or do two sit-ups or sun salutations to start your day. You consider all the minutes you’re willing to spend down the rabbit hole of social media or your latest Netflix binge, and you take just a few of those minutes to become more the kind of person you want to be. You don’t say, “I don’t have time,” or, “I’m not that kind of person.” You ditch the all-or-nothing attitude and start where you are; with one minute.
What can you do for ONE MINUTE today to make your day a little better?
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