How taking smarter breaks can prevent little disagreements from turning into big fights

Photo by George Coletrain on Unsplash

One of the great lessons from mindfulness traditions is about the power of pausing. So often, we react impulsively to the world around us, rather than respond skillfully.

If there is one thing I wish I could teach my twenty-year-old self, it would be to pause and take a break before letting my temper do the talking.

I’ve found taking a pause can be helpful in so many scenarios.

About to send an angry email? Take a pause.

Distracted and endlessly scrolling through your newsfeed? Take a pause.

Stressed and opening up the snack drawer? Take a pause.

Pausing allows…

For a long time, I struggled to use mindfulness in the day-to-day of my job. While I had started to experience the benefits of my daily meditation practice in my personal life, it didn’t quite translate into my work life.

Then in 2018, I lucked out and got a last minute registration to the extremely popular Search Inside Yourself (SIY) program at Google.

Over two days, we explored the neuroscience of mindfulness, saw how attention training can lead to enhanced emotional intelligence, and experimented with dozens of practical exercises that can be applied in daily life.

I walked away from…

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

Multitasking is the new status quo. When we’re walking, we’re texting. When we’re on a call, we’re checking email. When we’re making dinner, we’re listening to a podcast.

While elements of this are amazing — like being able to stream any audiobook in the world while you wash dishes — there is a cost.

You’ve probably felt it when a friend pulled out their phone during dinner to text someone else (I’m guilty of it). Or when you meant to finish an important proposal, but got sidetracked doing some online shopping.

I felt it while writing this article, and getting…

Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

For some of us, it might seem like working from home should be ideal for productivity. Without the commute or distractions of a busy office, we have so much more time to get things done. But is that the reality?

What I realised in the first couple weeks of lockdown was that after long days at the laptop, I was flat out exhausted. Examining my routine, I noticed that I was missing something critical: taking real breaks.

One of the most counterintuitive productivity lessons I’ve learned over the years is that to work harder, we need to rest harder. Many…

Photo by Carlos Alberto Gómez Iñiguez on Unsplash

A few years ago, Khaled Halim, an incredible CEO coach from Reboot, came to a global summit run by Google for Startups to run a session on leadership. There was one idea — an easy tool for team conversations — that has stuck with me over the years and delivered extraordinary results in my work and life.

It’s called Red Yellow Green.

The idea behind it is simple — we all show up to work (and life) feeling different each day. Our moods, energy levels, and emotions are constantly changing, just like the weather. …

Why now is a perfect time to take control of your relationship to the news

London before the lockdown. Photo by me.

I can’t remember a time when I felt so compelled to constantly check the news as these past two weeks. Perhaps the 2016 US election was close, but the combination of danger, uncertainty, and the speed at which the COVID-19 pandemic develops has triggered a unique urge within me to keep updated almost by the minute.

Luckily, it has spurred some introspection and caused me to reflect on my relationship to the news, and I wanted to share that exploration with you all. Most importantly…

Why we all need to ask for more help, and give it in return.

A beautiful mural by the street artist Kobra in São Paulo (photo by me)

There are many ‘obvious’ life lessons that seem almost too common sense to write about. But I’m always reminded of the question a mentor once put to me, “Yes it might be common sense, but is it common practice?” It’s with that spirit in mind that I want to share one of the most valuable lessons I was reminded of in 2019 — asking for help.

Of course, we all need help throughout our lives. We need help changing our diapers when we’re babies, we need…

Old meets new in Penang, Malaysia.

A nice glass of red with dinner. A refreshing cocktail when you reach the beach on holiday. A cold beer after work to catch up with an old friend. A shot to celebrate a friend’s birthday. A toast with bubbly for your colleague’s promotion.

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like alcohol has become the necessary ingredient to every occasion in our lives. If you’ve ever tried not drinking on a normal night out and faced a lengthy interrogation from your friends, then you know what I mean.

Imagine if you had just given up smoking…

Life on the bank of the Ganges. Photo by me

If you’ve ever wondered if I can stop talking, you’re not alone. I, too, wondered the same thing as I prepared for my first silent meditation retreat last month. But before we get into that, a quick update on where I’ve been.

For the past few months, my writing has slowed down as other activities in my life have picked up. Most notably, I completed a 3-month 200-hour yoga teacher training in June, and also went through a 4-month teacher training program for Search Inside Yourself (SIY), a leadership program born at Google that combines mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and neuroscience.

Sunrise in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Photo by me.

Over the last few years, I’ve spoken to a ton of students and recent grads entering the job market and looking to find a career that fits their interests and skills. While many of them reach out interested in Google, some are more curious about startups, and some just interested in finding a career path with international opportunities on the horizon.

No matter the path they are pursuing, interviews stand in the way.

On the flip side, I’ve interviewed lots of candidates at Google from a diverse range of countries, professional backgrounds, and personality types. …

Connor Swenson

Speaker // Facilitator // Writer •

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