RTÉ LifeStyle spoke to Dr Martyn Newman PHD at the 2018 Pendulum Summit to discuss his evolutionary career, the business of mindfulness and the most important skills for people to have in both business and life.
Dr Newman is a world-renowned expert on emotional intelligence who's inspiring work is influencing industries to pay attention to both personal and professional development skills surrounding emotional intelligence and mindfulness.
On moving from human rights to mindfulness
"In human rights, for example, there's a lot of passion, there's a lot of feeling, there's a lot of sense of injustice that goes on and feelings run very deeply.
"I think we move into that space and we try to help people and it's very much about moving externals but really, the real change needs to take place in the way people think and experience the world and see the world from other people's points of view.
"For me, it was clear that psychology had an enormous contribution to make to helping people get over the impasse standing in opposing corners and to really take the moment to understand each other, to see the world from the other person's point of view, and therefore develop empathy - and it fostered really collaborative dialogue and constructive dialogue that overcame this hostility.
"I dismissed psychology as having made the same mistake as fundamentalist religion being all about the salvation of the individual - the soul.
"Until I realised that psychology had a huge contribution to make to social dynamics and political and economic dynamics. Once we understand the power of moving into the experience of other people.
The single most important skill in life
"One of the skills that are the most critical at this stage in our lives - we're all suffering from a constant distraction, constant information overload, so many demands."
"Our lives have become extraordinarily busy and we were never meant to operate with such intensity and what you find is that once you're able to develop a peacefulness in your mind you can settle the incessant rumination worrying about the future.
"Often the sadness that draws us to the past with regret that leads to mood disorder makes us vulnerable to depression, our minds become a fog with anxiety."
"The ability to settle and quieten the mind and develop a peacefulness so that we approach life with a clarity of judgment, make good clean decisions and understand the full implications of what we're doing - these sorts of skills today set people apart."
The business of mindfulness
"Mindfulness relates to the bottom line in business really practically because we're all under enormous pressure to produce outcomes - constant outcomes.
"Workplaces have always been busy but with the explosion of information technology, the pressures have been extraordinary.
"What we need, more and more, is communities of collaboration.
"It's no longer possible as an engineer to sit quietly in a booth by yourself and invent new things, you've got to work with other people and to do that you need a mind that can pay attention to how other people see the world so you need to approach each challenge with a receptivity and an openness, not a judgementalism where you dismiss other people's ideas because they don't gel with your own view of the world
"Mindfulness gives us the ability to transcend our own egos, settle the mind, keep it quiet but pay really curious attention, rather than judgemental attention, to the experience of other people and this fosters greater idea flow across businesses; people feel psychologically safe because ' you're genuinely interested in me and therefore, I'll share with you my ideas' and as a consequence we get a lot more collaboration, creativity and innovation across organisations - it makes a huge difference to the bottom line.
Applying mindfulness to your CV
"People who understand the connection between physiology in particular and its relationship and the relationship of the body to the mind have wonderful opportunities to train people.
"Yoga teachers, for example, my son spends most of his working week training people in yoga and meditation combined because the two, of course, are aiming to achieve the same outcomes.
"People involved in these practices that enable people to take control of their bodies, enable people to relax their minds, these jobs emerging in yoga, meditation, in mindfulness, in pilates right across some of these health practices where we realise the relationship to the mind and the body is absolutely critical."
Still sceptical? Here's what Dr. Newman says to the naysayers
"If we examine the research, there are more than 500 international publications that have seriously examined the data on the impact of mindfulness.
"If I was to offer you a pill and I said to you 'all the side effects are positive, you just have to take it once a day and it will give you enormous protection against cardiovascular disease, often exacerbated by stress, it will improve the quality of your relationships, it will give you deeper and more satisfying sleep, it will inoculate you against the ravages of mood disorder, it will even reverse some of the obvious signs of ageing even at the level of the DNA and there are no negative side effects and it's free. Would you take that pill?'
"What I can say to you is that is the research over the last twenty years is making clear to us is that technology is available to us and once you read the data its so compelling.
"It raises the question of what is it about our scepticism that really sabotages our ability to get on board and really pay attention to it."
What are the key lessons of your books?
"To help people really come to grips with some of these technologies - and they are technologies, there's a systematic structure to both emotional intelligence, and how we build it, and mindfulness - I've written a couple of books.
"One book is Emotional Capitalist and it's called that because in business, we don't have time for psychological theory.
"What we're interested in is where do these skills, where do these interventions, really add value and bottom line to business performance and Dan's [Dan Goleman] book Emotional Intelligence became the biggest selling book in the history of the behavioural sciences and it's drawn our attention to the importance of it.
"Emotional Capitalist is a handbook, it's a book I wrote based on ten years of working with senior people around the world to help them understand the structure of how these emotional skills and competencies really work and provide a blueprint as to how they can systematically build."
"The Mindfulness Book is to bridge the gap between the popular literature, which is very superficial and treats the subject in a really cursory fashion, and to say that this is grounded in 2,500 years of philosophy and practise and once we understand it's background and once we understand it's relationship to modern cognitive psychology, suddenly these practices make sense.
"We're not just sitting cross-legged on a hilltop chanting but we really understand these are mind training techniques.
"The Mindfulness Book provides people with very easily accessible snapshots of the elements and the building blocks of how you can develop a mindfulness practice systematically overtime in bite-sized chunks that you can pick up and put down to really begin to bring mindfulness, not just into stress reduction, but into creating conditions of happiness in a family, to increase creativity, manage stress and so on."