Volume 3, Issue 24
In the prior post we made the point that better decision-making and higher performance in the end reduce to two main drivers, Positive Thinking and Mindfulness. Positive Thinking, which we also call Solution Orientation, is easier said than done, and we pointed to our book Mind Magic as a compendium of proven operational techniques for actually achieving and maintaining both of these inner behaviors. We promised to investigate the nature of Mindfulness in this post.
Mindfulness is a form of attention control. Going back at least as far as written language and probably as far back as the cave paintings, the human race has discovered the importance of focusing attention in achieving its aims. The cave paintings are widely believed to be evidence of a method for rehearsing the hunt. Yogic mental/emotional methodologies are the essence of what is recommended in the Vedas, some of the earliest writings on the planet, and these include contemplation, concentration and meditation, all three related to the conscious and willful control of the attention.
The need to be master of one’s own attention has gotten progressively greater over the centuries as a result of information overload and its distractive effects. We have given this condition the name Acceleritis. Our relevant hypothesis is that written language, by making language visual — the dominant sense of not only homo sapiens but of all primates — brought the human race up to Piaget’s Formal Operational level of thinking, the highest known level of thinking until Systems Level thinking was discovered in the twentieth century. This so augmented the ability to invent that in only 3% of the time since the appearance of the species, the human race in the last 6000 years has invented more and more things and ideas each year than in the prior year, and at an increasing rate, driving a vast increase in the amount of information needing to be processed by our brains each day. ADD, ADHD, and a fairly obvious reduction in the general population’s ability to stay focused on one problem long enough to solve it, have been the result. Again, the need for Mindfulness has never been greater.
Concentration is the focus of the mind on a single object. Contemplation is the focus of the mind on a single subject. Meditation is the contemplation of the Self. What then is Mindfulness? We define Mindfulness as the optimal allocation of attention for maximum effectiveness. Now that we’ve defined the term, we’ll stop initial-capping it.
Attention optimally allocates both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. This is in sharp distinction from normative behavior, which is to allocate virtually all attention outwardly whenever the eyes are open. This normative attention strategy virtually eliminates the ability to understand one’s own motivations in the moment, causing actions to be controlled by ego drives that are counterproductive to efficacy. When one is mindful, there is a predictive feedback loop allowing one to suppress actions that are merely self-serving and do not consider the needs and probable responses of others.
Mindfulness also makes one more observant externally, improving what fighter pilots call situational awareness. Our theory of Holosentience postulates a shift into a higher state of consciousness as a result of persistent mindfulness. We call this the Observer state, and it is from this state that the mind-body can launch into Flow state or the Zone, the highest known state of consciousness in which right actions seem to do themselves effortlessly.
It takes “attentional” effort to be mindful and thus to reach the Observer state and the Zone.
Mindfulness and solution orientation (overleaping the focus on the problem once it is defined and going right to the focus on the solution, otherwise known as Positive Thinking) combine to form the core of the Human Effectiveness Institute’s psychotechnology — the recommended set of methodologies to achieve superior decisions, highest effectiveness, and creative innovation in all aspects of one’s life.
Best to all,
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