How We Work | Leah Weiss

Summary of: How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind
By: Leah Weiss


Welcome to the summary of ‘How We Work: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim Your Sanity, and Embrace the Daily Grind’ by Leah Weiss. This book takes a deep dive into the toxicity of stressful workplaces and focuses on the importance of mindfulness, self-compassion, and personal purpose to create healthier work environments. It elucidates three techniques for mindfulness training: embodiment, meta-cognition, and focus. The book also examines the roles of compassion, self-compassion, courage, and vulnerability in both personal and professional growth. Be prepared to gain insights on cultivating self-awareness and enhancing your work-life balance.

Mindfulness at Work

In the 1980s, toxic workplaces were defined by poor air quality and hazardous substances. But even after changes to make buildings more “green,” stress remains a toxic element. Many Americans work too much for the wrong reasons, which leads to burnout and other related problems. In such work environments, productivity and profit matter more than employee satisfaction. The Harvard Business School created a Hippocratic Oath for Managers during the financial crisis in 2008, but it doesn’t explain how managers can become better leaders. Mindfulness can help improve work life, increase fulfillment, and develop soft skills like emotional intelligence and collaboration.

Mindfulness Training Simplified

Mindfulness training can help alleviate unwanted thoughts and behavior. The training involves three types: embodiment, meta-cognition, and focus. Embodiment involves focusing on the body, particularly the breath, to regulate stress response. Meta-cognition helps in tracking attention and accessing the purpose in routines, leading to fewer biases. Focus allows for an effortless “flow” state during an activity. Practicing mindfulness can provide perspective and lessen the impact of negative thoughts and behaviors.

Fuel Your Purpose

Pursuing a personally meaningful goal with intention fuels purpose. This purpose makes work more satisfying irrespective of the job. Purpose matters, but keep your actions grounded and your expectations reasonable. Everyone has the human need for meaning and can make choices to fulfill that need in any circumstance.
To assess your purpose, start by defining your top five values, identifying gaps, and journaling your energizing activities and inspiring people. People who understand their purpose find that working hard to achieve their goals doesn’t daunt them. A task is only as hard as your perception of its difficulty. Long-term goals motivate people more than short-term goals. It may involve suffering, but it’s better to suffer for what matters to you.

The Power of Compassion

Compassion is not a weakness; it is both simple and complex. By recognizing the suffering of others and striving to alleviate it, we can improve our own lives. A survey found that incivility and a lack of compassion in the workplace lead to decreased productivity, more sick days, and even sabotage. Practicing compassion can make us healthier, happier, and more resilient, and knowing its benefits can empower us to take meaningful action. Living by our values through compassionate actions is its own reward.

The Power of Self-compassion

The mistaken belief that negative self-talk motivates you is a prevalent myth. Treating yourself harshly increases fear, procrastination, and rumination. Lean into negative feelings to cultivate resilience. Learn from negative feedback to improve. Shame is a widespread workplace problem that turns the self inward. Guilt functions as a moral compass, while self-compassion lets you accept help from others who recognize your needs. Don’t confuse self-compassion with self-esteem, which only fuels a narcissistic epidemic. Understanding the difference between these two is crucial for one’s personal growth and mental wellbeing.

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