The Future of Regret-Free Culture
The search term “Mindfulness” has grown 700% since 2004 according to Google Trends, a tool that reflects our digital culture’s mindshare. The eastern mindfulness and meditation cultures are growing in western societies and are regularly discussed by spiritual leaders and neuroscientists alike. But do “being present” or “transcendence” represent our full potential? If not, what might and how might it look?
Figure 1 – “Mindfulness” Search Interest Since 2004
What about those who actually apply their self- and contextual-awareness? Olivia Goldhill interviewed Dean Buonomano, behavioral neuroscience professor at UCLA and author of Your Brain is a Time Machine, and concluded that, “it’s entirely healthy to focus on enjoying the present moment. But failing to invest in the future simply wouldn’t be human” . The search term “Intention” (i.e. our plan), shows growth of 150% since 2008 (4year offset), suggesting that our next cultural wave will be a modern form of intentional living.
The timing could not be more critical to our future because of intentional living’s potential to address some of our society’s biggest threats, such as economic disparity, climate change, intolerance, violence, addiction, and malnutrition. While most of us globally have likely held values opposing these threats for some time now because they adversely affect us, perhaps significant progress requires the widespread awareness, thought, and action that an intentional living culture will drive. Emerging technologies then, if used intentionally, can accelerate our progress with information abundance, augmented computing capacity, and cost-effective/scalable solutions.
The benefit of intentional living is that, by acting in line with our values and toward our goals, we are more likely to enjoy the process of living, achieve those goals, feel more fulfilled, and experience little to no end-of-life regret. Intentional living feels good, so it is self-reinforcing and therefore sustainable. Personally, my life goal is to eliminate regretful, aimless, and meaningless time in my own and others’ lives, so I combined my professional experience and education to develop a practical, structured, and fulfilling method of intentional living called the Sentient Worldview.
Figure 2 – High-level Overview of Sentient Worldview Intentional Living Framework
The Sentient Worldview was designed modularly so that we could each customize it to our own personal values and goals, adjust it as our beliefs change, and augment our six fundamental life skills with emerging technology. The details of this intentional living worldview are less important for the question at hand than the fact you can customize, adjust, and augment it as you see fit. These three characteristics improve the likelihood of an intentional living culture shift because they encourage broader adoption, facilitate personal growth, and enhance meaningful productivity.
A worldview that we can customize based on their own values and goals encourages broader adoption because it simultaneously preserves a sense of identity while instilling a sense of belonging to a fully-inclusive community. Consider how smartphone designs enable “mass customization”; the hardware and operating systems are standardized then individuals simply use whatever “apps” specifically suit them. Significant network benefits are then enjoyed by all those using the platform, such as ease of communication, collaboration, and empathy.
A worldview that we can adjust modularly as society’s knowledge evolves facilitates personal growth because its structure minimizes disruption to skills and beliefs unrelated to the change. Consider how smartphone apps can be upgraded independently as each improves over time or is replaced by a more functional one. Simple upgrades to individual skills and beliefs can facilitate the adoption of a continuous improvement culture as well as foster a respect for and acceptance of our peers who share a growth mindset, regardless of ability or status.
A worldview that we can augment enhances our productivity if we adopt and practice it, thus catering to our natural self-interest. Consider the example of smartphone hardware itself. While biologically, our default hardware is set by genetics, we have the ability to augment our bodies’ and minds’ abilities through healthy choices (maintenance), training (apps), and technology (externals). Hopefully, our increased sense of community will encourage us to apply our enhanced productivity meaningfully.
Will intentional living follow mindfulness? I am optimistic it will but nobody knows for certain. If it does, then I believe it must preserve our senses of both identity and belonging, facilitate personal growth, and enhance meaningful productivity. The good news is that, if it doesn’t, then we will spend increasingly more time aimlessly, meaninglessly, and regretfully because irrelevant information will consume our attention and we won’t realize the life we are missing or the world we could have had. Will you realize it?
Please apply be mindful, live intentionally, and encourage others to do the same.