Minding Your Business in an Unpredictable Economy

“Be here now” has long been an accepted practice for students of yoga and meditation, but the concept is now getting mainstream validation- and many entrepreneurs are already paying attention.  A new study out of Harvard catalogued in the Nov. 12 issue of Science (and reported on by John Tierney in the New York Times) stakes out an argument for more Buddhist mind discipline to stave off depression.

According to Tierney (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/science/16tier.html?_r=1&ref=science), psychologists at Harvard used an iPhone ap called trackyourhappiness to contact people around the world at random intervals to ask how they were feeling, what they were doing and what they were thinking.

According to the researchers, “we developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.”

In fact, as the researchers elaborated,  “…whatever people were doing, whether it was having sex or reading or shopping, they tended to be happier if they focused on the activity instead of thinking about something else.”  In fact, whether and where their minds wandered was a better predictor of happiness than what they were doing.

One of the researchers, Matthew Killngsworth,  saw evidence for mind-wandering causing unhappiness, but no evidence for unhappiness causing mind-wandering.

These findings seem to be in keeping with religious and philosophical admonitions to “be here now,” notes Tierney.  He also quotes William F. Buckley Jr.’s saying that “Industry is the enemy of melancholy.

So what’s the lesson in marketing?  One logical conclusion is to stay focused on your goals and don’t get distracted by the stream of bad news.  I talk with entrepreneurs daily and many successful ones tell me they avoid the news and naysayers and focus on their own companies.  In my own business, I use the Ditmas Park Workspace in my Brooklyn neighborhood when I need to be productive.  The offices  don’t have either a radio or TV set and that  allows me to cut down on distractions and stay focused on my projects.  I find that it is easy in such a quiet space to get “in the zone” or fully concentrated on the task at hand, and the result is that I’m very happy and productive!

“Be here now” seems very wise news for survival in today’s business world, indeed.

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