What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

Ask a Buddhist: My Boss is Stressing Me Out!

February 21, 2012, 12:00 AM
Boss

Your shoulders bunch. Your jaw clenches. “No!No!No!No!” screams a voice inside your head. "Hello!!" you hear yourself saying – just a little too brightly – "How are you?" 

This sort of reaction to the sight of your boss (or spouse, or anybody at all) might have some real history behind it. Perhaps you've decided that she's a vicious tyrant or a wearying pontificator. Maybe she's the embodiment of everything that drives you nuts about your mom. Maybe she feels exactly the same way about you. 

But however numerous and well-documented your grievances may be, your boss isn't manufacturing your stress – you are. "You have created the stress-inducing boss," says Kadam Morten, a Buddhist teacher in the New Kadampa tradition, founded by Buddhist leader Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the author of Modern Buddhism. Stress, Kadam Morten suggests, is the result of "uncontrolled mind states" like anger, or a sense of professional inadequacy. Buddhists practice meditation to understand and transcend these states. The point is that whether or not your boss is verifiably horrible, it's up to you how badly she stresses you out. 

 

 

What's the Significance?

According to the CDC, chronic, work-related stress is an increasingly widespread phenomenon. And over a long enough time span, it can cause serious psychological and physical harm. Western medicine has only recently begun to pinpoint the mechanisms whereby chronic stress – through the adrenal gland's excessive release of the hormone cortisol – can cause a wide range of illnesses, from obesity to diabetes to heart disease. But the evidence is mounting, and it's conclusive: chronic stress is poison for the body and the mind. 

Kadam Morten isn’t surprised by these findings. They align neatly with the 2000+ year-old teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as Buddha (Sanskrit for “awakened one”). According to Buddhist tradition, most people's lives are characterized by suffering. Optimistic, can-do Westerners may balk at that notion, but keep in mind that we're not necessarily talking about famine, war, and pestilence here. For Buddhists, suffering is the endless push-pull of desire – for a new car, for a nicer boss, to be anywhere at all other than where you are right now.

The mind-states that desire induces, Kadam Morten maintains, can limit our creativity and mental flexibility in the moment. Ironically, the fight-or-flight approach to problem-solving can cause us to reenact, over and over again, the very scenarios that cause us suffering. Meditation, he says, is a practical method for investigating your own mind and transcending harmful habits of thinking.  

 Applied to the modern workplace, this doesn’t mean blissing out and letting your “horrible boss” walk all over you. It means freeing yourself to make calm, reasonable decisions about how best to deal with him, including – if necessary – the decision to find a new job. 

 

Follow Jason Gots (@jgots) on Twitter

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

 

 

Ask a Buddhist: My Boss is ...

Newsletter: Share: