Friday, 31 October 2014


Mindfulness has become the new Pilates or Yoga. People use it to remove stress and doubt. But some find the trouble is it removes ideas and energy as well. “I felt terrific but when they asked where the work was I grinned and said ‘live and let live’. They didn’t seem too impressed.

 Yi-Yuan Tang (Universities of Oregon and Dalia, China) says of mindfulness “it creates a state of restful alertness …a balanced state of relaxation whilst focusing attention.…” And everything I know about the modern world says this is a great tool. In Davos Gwyneth Paltrow espoused it and even described it as “the new black.”

But…and it’s not a huge ‘but’, but it is a ‘but’….I think content matters…I think people need to focus on energising their brains usefully rather than resting them. If mindfulness is the new black then I think thoughtfulness is the new technicolour. Thoughtfulness is about trying to improve our fluid intelligence, our memory and our attention. It means cutting out multitasking (the most ludicrous practice ever - the next time someone’s texting while you’re talking stop talking.)

It is probable that “attention” is the scarcest and most precious commodity on the planet right now so pay attention, listen and think.

It’s strange that we can imagine thinking is so natural an activity that we don’t have to work at it and focus on how to feed our brains with new ideas and inspiration. We seem currently too worried about how we feel rather than how or if we are thinking powerfully. Our most important tool is being taken for granted. Allan Snyder from the University of Sydney described the lack of creative thinking - thinking at its best thus:

Imagine a company devoid of creativity and you’re looking at a place…about to die.

How to solve problems and make brilliant decisions. (Business Thinking Skills that really work) published by Pearson is coming out on November 7th 2014

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