How mind­ful liv­ing can bal­ance work, life

The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - GLOBE CAREERS -

Be­ing present in the mo­ment and un­der­stand­ing what you have can help sus­tain your role in a healthy and happy team DAN GUNAM

Founder of Calii Love, a Cal­i­for­nian-Hawai­ian eatery in Toronto

There was a time when I stopped en­joy­ing my life and be­ing happy. I lost the urge to wake up every morn­ing and go to work. My dad had al­ways in­stilled the im­por­tance of learn­ing all as­pects of busi­ness and that taught me the value of learn­ing. I never said no to any op­por­tu­ni­ties – work­ing for the fam­ily busi­ness, I learned how to fix print­ers; from there, how to fix com­put­ers, even­tu­ally dis­cov­er­ing my pas­sion for de­sign and mar­ket­ing, ul­ti­mately launch­ing my ca­reer. My first job was at 16 at a fi­bre­glass fac­tory in Scar­bor­ough, Ont., and it still gives me goose­bumps think­ing about it. I came home cry­ing in pain from skin ex­po­sure af­ter my first day; the con­di­tions were ruth­less. I then did odd jobs, be­fore work­ing for my fam­ily busi­ness and later launch­ing a mar­ket­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity ca­reer, open­ing many suc­cess­ful es­tab­lish­ments. I be­came a worka­holic. For eight years of my life, I worked dou­ble jobs – a 9-to-5 mar­ket­ing gig and then a 6 p.m.-2 a.m. shift at the var­i­ous restau­rants and bars I partly owned. The hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try be­came a wake-up call for me – how poorly the staff were treated, how neg­a­tive the space could be and how quickly peo­ple fell into bad habits. It be­came a strug­gle and a con­stant bat­tle be­tween egos in­stead of ethics. It was drain­ing my en­ergy, the en­ergy of those around me, de­plet­ing my bank ac­count and, most im­por­tant, cost­ing me re­la­tion­ships with my fi­ancée, fam­ily and close friends. I couldn’t sleep, suf­fered from high blood pres­sure and I was de­pressed. It was a spon­ta­neous trip with my fi­ancée that changed my life for the bet­ter – for the first time in more than three years, I smiled and en­joyed life a lit­tle. I came back want­ing to build some­thing that would make an im­pact on not only my life, but oth­ers – a com­pany that fo­cused on build­ing a pos­i­tive cul­ture, that pushed per­sonal growth, not just a work en­vi­ron­ment. Mind­ful liv­ing is not about be­ing in your yoga pants and be­com­ing ve­gan – it’s about be­ing present and un­der­stand­ing and valu­ing what you have at this mo­ment in your life. It’s about see­ing the best in peo­ple and deal­ing with hard­ships. Calii Love has never been just about food – it is about pro­mot­ing pos­i­tiv­ity and well­ness in a com­mu­nity space. I wanted a place for ev­ery­one; that’s why our menu is based on feel­ings, be­cause ev­ery­one (in­clud­ing our staff) feels and we ul­ti­mately want ev­ery­one to feel the love com­ing in. Mil­len­ni­als and Gen­er­a­tion Z are em­brac­ing the free-spir­ited life­style, are not bound to struc­ture and value con­ve­nience. One of the many rea­sons why ser­vices such as Net­flix and Uber pros­per is that the con­sumer wants what they want, when they want it. On­line re­tail­ing is grow­ing at a rapid pace and pur­chases are a click away. How­ever, con­sumers are con­scious of where they’re grab­bing their cof­fee, what they’re con­sum­ing, the story be­hind the prod­uct and where it comes from. They want to feel as if they’re do­ing some­thing good and mak­ing an im­pact in so­ci­ety, and are a part of some­thing big­ger. This is forc­ing busi­nesses to make changes – how they treat their staff, what cul­ture they cu­rate for the next gen­er­a­tion and work-life bal­ance. There’s no sur­prise that mind­ful liv­ing is a term that has slowly been im­ple­mented into work prac­tices in an at­tempt to sus­tain healthy and happy teams, but how can ded­i­cated em­ploy­ees keep a work-life bal­ance? Here are three mind­ful ways.

Breathe: We’re liv­ing in a grow­ing city, lead­ing very busy lives. There are work com­mit­ments and life com­mit­ments – so breathe. I set my Ap­ple Watch to re­mind me to breathe every few hours, and I make sure I fol­low it. Re­gard­less of that strict dead­line you’re try­ing to meet or that ap­point­ment that you can’t can­cel again, re­mem­ber to in­hale, ex­hale. This helps to nour­ish your mind, body and soul be­cause you’re breath­ing mind­fully. We host med­i­ta­tion classes in our Mind­ful Stu­dio every day, and get our em­ploy­ees in­volved be­cause we know it helps.

Don’t let one bad day bring you down: There is al­ways to­mor­row – a new day, a new start. Some­times, we don’t feel our best men­tally or phys­i­cally, maybe we’ve ex­hausted our­selves and this af­fects our work. It’s okay to have an off day, week, or month. The idea is to bounce back and be aware of your emo­tions – anger, fear, jeal­ousy and stress are the com­mon emo­tions one feels in a work­place. It’s im­por­tant to have open con­ver­sa­tions with col­leagues, men­tors or se­niors, to be trans­par­ent and not har­bour feel­ings. Be a bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tor and you will get what you de­serve. You time: The best tip in the books – “you time,” also known as “me time.” I ded­i­cate one hour every morn­ing to my­self to read, re­lax and en­joy quiet time with­out any­one dis­rupt­ing me. Dur­ing the week, it can get hec­tic – so step­ping out for a walk, do­ing a lunch work­out or con­nect­ing with a loved one is what keeps me in­spired. Adding small steps to­gether cre­ates one large stride to­ward mind­ful­ness and good vibes only.

Ex­ec­u­tives, ed­u­ca­tors and hu­man re­sources ex­perts con­trib­ute to the on­go­ing Lead­er­ship Lab se­ries. Find more sto­ries at ca­reers.


Tak­ing a mo­ment to breathe or en­rolling in med­i­ta­tion classes can help nour­ish your mind, body and soul and let you take a step back from the busy life­style in a grow­ing city.

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