Cognitive Coding: A Mindful Geek

Mindfulness in the world of Cognitive Coding has given me perspective in adversity and calm in a sea of chaos. In a program as intense as Turing, cognitive coding has become essential to my success as a student and software developer.

Cognitive Coding?

Cognitive Coding is the practice of taking back control of your thoughts, noticing opportunities that others miss, and actively choosing how you react to the world around you.

But, what is mindfulness? Although associated with certain spiritual practices, anyone can practice mindfulness without drinking a religious Kool-Aid. Various forms structure meditation or mindfulness around mantras while others focus on being present by paying attention to your breath.

Although my mindfulness ability is a work in progress, focusing on my breath has helped me tune out the surrounding environment in stressful situations. And allows me to get more in touch with my physical and mental being by living more in the present. Being present allows you to be happy and appreciate the great things going on in your life.

It feels awkward at first but quickly becomes a much needed break in a busy routine. Especially in creative and technical fields. Raising your awareness can take your professional and personl ability to the next level. Below are a few thoughts on the positive benefits from practicing mindfulness that I have found as a software developer.

Why should I care?

Picture this — you are working with a team on a two week project, building a multi-tenant ecommerce platform with so many models, views, and controllers that it makes your head spin. Everyone has put in long days and is exhausted.

Code quality is prime, test coverage is high, logic is contained, and expectations are exceeded. As you are about to present the product to the client, you remember it has not been pushed to Heroku yet (it doesn’t matter if it’s not live).

As you load “ticketly.herokuapp.com” you see that none of the assets are rendering and the OAuth callback is failing. Your stomach drops as the client is steps away, walking towards you.

How do you react?

Mindfulness might not debug your heroku logs but it will give you more control of your emotions and how you process the challenge. Keeping your cool in situations like this, which happen in various forms as a software developer on a daily basis, is a secret to success in this field.

Take Your Ability to the Next Level

It seems cheesy to rattle off the positive effects of raising your ability to control your thoughts, but they are real. It’s like eating healthy, regularly exercising, and being a nice person. Mindfulness can make your life even better.

Relationships take on new meanings. Hobbies are fulfilling in an entirely different light, and a healthy confidence is fostered. Mindfulness can allow you to take control of imposter syndrome, and find unique interests in learning challenging topics.

At the end of the day, software developers are paid to solve challenging problems that haven’t been solved. The roller coaster of doing so is why we love what we do. Dealing with these opportunities is stressful. That’s why I have turned to cognitive coding and mindfulness.

If not for your personal self, I hope you give mindfulness a shot for your professional self. To get started, it’s worth watching Dr. Ron Siegel’s recent talk at Google.

“Meditation leads to openness, to freedom, where a kind of intuition just comes through. You could step back and put things in perspective. It doesn’t lessen your emotions. The emotions are the same, but you can step back and say, ‘I’m not going to be controlled by that emotion,’ and I think it then helps to see things at a higher level.” – Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates

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