We’re happiest when we’re successful, right? Or are we successful when we’re happiest? These are age-old questions we’re constantly trying to figure out. And with cultural norms pushing us to be faster, better and “on” all the time, the answer isn’t exactly clear.
The problem: Short attention spans
It’s no secret that we live in an age of imbalance and fractured attention. The ADHD Rx industry hovers around $15.5 billion, and almost half of that (44%) is written for adults over age 19. But we’re not the only ones. Other high-producing countries like China, Israel and Saudi Arabia are also seeing a recent surge in these prescriptions.
And this isn’t exactly helping our success or our happiness, leaving us to search for a solution.
A new way of dealing: Nootropics
In high-achieving America, where productivity is prized and attention scarce, watch for the rise of nootropics (…aka The New Adderall; nootropics’ Greek root words mean “mind” + “bending”). Nootropics are known as “smart drugs” – or “cognitive enhancers.”
Born, not surprisingly, in Silicon Valley, they first became popular with the coding crowd. Now, nootropic manufacturers are seeing start-ups, serial entrepreneurs, artists, creatives and agency execs among their best clients. Bulletproof Coffee’s notorious biohacking founder, Dave Asprey, has tried them all.
They’re not FDA approved (shocking) because they’re considered supplements. While the goal is to feel like you have access to far more of your brain capacity (think Bradley Cooper in “Limitless”), experts warn of dehydration, heart palpitations, and perhaps the most dreaded backfire of all in today’s culture: lethargy.
Finding balance from the inside out
Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to turn thine Quantified Self Eyes inside – to measuring, and optimizing, our mental health.
Watch(es) out: The smartwatch/fitness tracking market is on the decline. Total shipments are down 51.6% compared to the same time last year, according to an IDC report featured on TechCrunch.
In the Attention Economy, we’re tuning in to the invisible drivers that govern our lives – states of consciousness and how they impact our performance. Take the wearable Zenta, for example, which measures moods and states of consciousness, and guides the user toward both mental and physical optimization. (Its production is still pending, but the shift in measurement technology is what we want to call your attention to.)
Scroll through the Indiegogo page to see how Zenta is tracking everything from anxiety to blood oxygen levels to fertility patterns. Oh, and yes, it’ll count your steps too.
“ZENTA was designed to help you monitor your physical health, and behavioral patterns and emotions, so you can design your life in a way that makes the most sense for you.”
– Kate Unsworth, CEO Vinaya
But healthy is happy. And happy is productive.
With 15.4 million views (a Top 25 TED speaker), Shawn Achor’s hilarious TED Talk has us convinced we’ve got it all backward. We will not be happier when we’re more productive. We are far more productive where we’re already happy. The key word being already. It must be now. He argues, when we attach happiness to our circumstances with a “when” … when I get the: job title, bigger home, hotter spouse, rockin’ body, we are placing happiness on the other side of success. When happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there. “We have placed happiness OVER the cognitive horizon, as a society.”
Are we really paying attention to the right success metrics?
We often look at success metrics relative to industry (or other) averages. That means average becomes our benchmark. No bueno.
What are the metrics of success and optimization your organization, projects or clients need in place to take things to the next level?
Are there outdated or traditional ways of thinking that we can shift to a more important metric that holds everyone to a higher standard?
It’s definitely something to think about. And something to talk about.
“If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”
(Another gem from Shawn Achor’s TED Talk. Seriously, watch it.)