We just rented an office after 6 years of working in cafés. Here’s our Mindful House Rules, which might be helpful and inspiring for your home or office.
Why there are rules: these are personal rules. If you don’t agree with them, talk with us about them. Rules are intended to be fun and meaningful, not uptight. We are trying to do something together: like rowing a boat together, we all need to be on the same page to have our home be fun, healthy and productive.
Specific Rules (Lu)
Please bow when entering and leaving—if you feel like it. Bows begin with good posture, then as you lower you connect with friendship and society in the realm of the shoulders and heart, then you connect with the realm of details and groundedness at the end. Then come back up silently. This can be done quickly and acknowledges this space as a place to do good fun work that is of benefit to others.
This is a mindful, green and dog-friendly home. Be mindful and be green here. Dogs have been shown to improve office productivity. The Economist: office employees who had “a dog to slobber and pounce on them rank their team-mates more highly on measures of trust, team cohesion and intimacy.” Everyone, no matter their mood—stressed, pissed, shy, speedy—can slow down and relate with cute dogs. Clients also light up. Dogs are silly and sweet…and chaotic. They make a house a home, and a bland office, rather surprisingly, a factory for genius. Obviously: dogs need to be trained, and owners need to be trained. That said: chaos should be regarded as extremely good news.
Take your shoes off. Hang your coat up. Make yourself at home.
No feet on table surfaces. No books or hat on the floor. It’s a Lha, Nyen and Lu respect thing:
When bogged down in a specific issue, think of the vision or mission or point behind it.
Bike or walk whenever possible. Don’t drive unless you really need to: driving is shown to be bad for relationships, stress, fitness and is bad for our planet.
Always park bike or car properly unless dropping by for less than three minutes.
If there’re any issues, or supplies needed, report them to the House Mother.
Leave toilet seat down. It’s neater, and good feng shui (water symbolizes wealth) if you go in for that stuff. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.
No to-go cups in this house. Minimal plastic, no to-go containers. Bring your own to-go. Bring a mug and slippers for yourself.
The last person to leave is always 100% responsible for lights, windows, heat/AC, doors locked. The second-to-last person should offer to help close things up.
Do not water the plants (Ashleigh or Waylon will). Do not waste water when washing dishes. Capture all clean water for plants in the provided container.
If you bring a guest by, please be mindful about the situation you’re walking into. Guests need to follow all rules—you’re responsible for them including any damage that might occur. If you’re closest to an entrance, please greet guests and ask them to take off their shoes. Never share main door access code with guests.
HQ is a place for work, not your own projects or social time, unless otherwise agreed upon.
If eating a meal, do not multi-task. Take a break. Appreciate your food and conversation.
Observe room noise limits. Entrance: loud. Main room: library. First office: loud w/door closed, library otherwise. Second office: loud w/door closed, library otherwise. Cell phone room: loud. Meditation room: library. Guest room: library day, loud off-hours. Kitchen: loud. Bathroom: whatever. Mudroom: loud. What?
Meaningful Rules (Lha)
Everyone is your responsibility—if you see someone down or out, ask them how they are. If you see someone tense, massage their shoulders if they like or encourage them to do a shoulderstand or get outside for a minute, fresh air!
If you have an issue with (Waylon), talk to them directly as soon as you can.
We all make mistakes. No worries. Ask questions. Feel comfortable asking “dumb” questions. If you agree to do something, do it or explain that you can’t do it after all.
Find the goodness in others. Drive all Blames into One: Basically, blame is a hot potato. Sit on it and we can all move on and focus on the issue. Be the leader: don’t wait for others to own it.
Touch and go: if you have an idea or suggestion for the office, touch in with Waylon, Lindsey or Rachel and then go do it in your own way.
Waylon is a jerk twice a month. Don’t take it personally. Try to look for the issue. One moment of anger destroys two weeks of merit. That said, don’t take things personally. Find the goodness in others, even jerks. Also, Ashleigh is too loud. But she’s sweet and makes vegan cookies. Ashleigh: listen, don’t just talk.
Never leave the doors open: Redford will leave and get hit by a car and you’ll feel horrible forever. Don’t engage with Redford the Dog at all until he’s quiet. No eye contact or petting until he’s calm.
Always use coasters for mugs, food, glasses. Waylon will be a jerk if you don’t and you’ll have to sand and reseal the table. Always leave a book or blanket on the leather chairs: Red will scratch them up and Waylon will cry.
Always compost all napkins food scraps (except meat or dairy. Always recycle what can be recycled. Always clean up after yourself. 8 Slogans for a Buddhist Kitchen (posted in our Kitchen).
Buddhism on how to “meet”: talk, listen, make sure you’re on the same page about what’s been agreed upon, seal every conversation with a takeaway or tasks.
Listen, don’t just talk. 4 points of Buddhist Speech.
Always maintain a sense of humor about oneself and…these “rules,” which should be regarded not as outside imposition but as inside-out forms based on principles.
Finally, generally: slow down. It’s counter-intuitive, but busyness isn’t productive. Avoid multi-tasking. Walk or bike to work, instead of driving. The fresh air and exercise will do your mind and morale good. Listen: ask advice instead of just working long hours. Sleep. Eat real food—forget the Red Bull. Meditate.
Enjoy this life and may our work be of benefit!
Yours in the Vision of an Enlightened Society,
Editor-in-Chief: elephant journal; host: Walk the Talk Show