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Beyond BLS

Beyond BLS briefly summarizes articles, reports, working papers, and other works published outside BLS on broad topics of interest to MLR readers.

January 2018

The importance of workers who practice mindfulness and meditation

Summary written by: Charlotte M. Irby

So what does it mean when someone says that we need to become more mindfully aware of ourselves and of the world around us? Some people believe it means not worrying about what happened yesterday or what may or may not happen tomorrow; in other words, it’s living in the moment or present. In their paper, “Mindfulness and meditation practice as moderators of the relationship between age and subjective wellbeing among working adults” (Mindfulness, vol. 8, no. 4, August 2017),­­ Tammy D. Allen, Tyler G. Henderson, Victor S. Mancini, and Kimberly A. French use a similar definition to describe mindfulness. Crediting their fellow researchers Kirk Brown, Richard Ryan, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, they define mindfulness “as the ability to be present in the moment through attention and awareness, and it involves the cultivation of an attitude of non-judging, non-striving, and patience.” In general, people apply this concept to their personal everyday lives; however, in this paper, the authors apply it to the lives of working adults.

In performing their preliminary research, the authors first looked at other studies on mindfulness. They found that several of these studies showed that people who received mindfulness-training therapy and who meditated had improved overall health—including reduced stress and depression, along with better physical health. They also found that people who practiced mindfulness were more apt to accept changes caused by age. In investigating the relationship between age and well-being further, Tammy Allen and colleagues divided their research into two studies. In the first study, they looked at how mindfulness affected the relationship between age and vitality and also how it affected the relationship between age and the balance of work and family. The second study consisted of analyzing the practice of meditation and its connection between age and physical and psychological health and life satisfaction.

The studies’ findings revealed that mindfulness had a positive effect on the relationship between age and subjective well-being in working adults, and by practicing mindfulness, workers can improve their well-being as they age. The authors also suggest that the positive correlation between age and well-being may be because as people age, their focus is more on the present and less on the future. In addition, the authors found positive relationships between age and vitality, work and family, psychological health, and satisfaction with life in people who were more mindful.

The authors conclude that aging workers and “age-diverse” workers who proclaimed to practice mindfulness and meditation had improved overall health and subjective well-being compared with those who do not.