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Learn & Practice

Workplace Wednesday: A Beginner’s Mind at Work

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In this week’s Workplace Wednesday we explore how practicing insight can help to loosen previous assumptions and improve our outlook.

Photo by Barney Yau on Unsplash

In the third pillar of the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being, Insight, we explore how our personal beliefs and expectations can sometimes limit a growth-mindset. Our beliefs are built over the course of years and can limit our perspective, especially in challenging situations. 

However, when we shift from beliefs, interpretations, and assumptions to direct experience it prompts us to redefine who and what we are – and often improves our outlook.

You can practice insight to loosen your previous assumptions in the workplace and to approach your work with a “beginner’s mind.” 

Here are a few ways to get in touch with this feeling:

  1. Spend time reflecting on the feelings you felt when you accepted your position at this workplace. What were your emotions? Did you feel excited, curious, inspired? What were your thoughts? Did you have ambitions, plans and fantasies? Just notice what you felt before you started.
  2. Now, reflect on your first few weeks at this position. How did your colleagues welcome you? What were your initial observations? What was the emotional tone of these experiences? Pleasant, unpleasant, neutral? Did you feel positive, open feelings toward your new colleagues? Your new responsibilities? Your new opportunities? Just reflect and notice how you feel.
  3. Now, examine what it would be like to approach your current responsibilities, colleagues, and opportunities with that same perspective of when you first started? Would you be more open, excited, and hopeful? Are there ideas you could return to? 
  4. Finally, sit with the reflection. You can either write these observations and feelings down, or just pay attention in the moment.

After you’ve done some of this work, try using a beginner’s mind as an experiment for the next few weeks. For example, don’t bring your current assumptions and beliefs about coworkers into your meetings. Instead, approach them like you did the first few weeks of employment: with curiosity and a willingness to listen without judgment.

We can’t always control the circumstances of our lives, but with a little self-inquiry, we can use these circumstances to trigger insight, to bring a fresh perspective to a challenging situation. Even if you are not challenged at work, but feel uninspired, this can be a great practice to shift your perspective. We can train ourselves to see that these thoughts are not reality. They’re just one limited perspective of the situation, and they’re based on beliefs we hold about ourselves – beliefs that we never even pause to question.

Need some guidance? Try this 10 minute meditation, Inquiring into Ideology, to get you started!


Learn more about how the Healthy Minds Framework can support your workplace well-being with our Healthy Minds @Work program.


HM@Work Mental Health Workplace Wednesdays