Tao of Advertising #8 – The Art of Flourishing

Last week my friend Tom Chase attended an annual conference in Cape Cod, Massachusetts that focused on a new area of psychology that combines the Western psychological tradition with Eastern principles and practices, such as meditation, in order to create new modalities for treatment. The key thought leader for this conference was Jeffrey Rubin, whose approach is called “The Art of Flourishing”. As my friend Tom explained the approach to me, it became very apparent that there are obvious applications to the art of advertising.

Awareness – related to the Buddhist principle of “mindfulness”, this is about being aware of your inner life (thoughts and feelings) and what’s going on around you, as a neutral, non-judgmental observer. From this vantage point, you are aware of the currents of feelings and energy happening within you and around you. And this is the best state to be in to derive insight, that holy grail of good advertising.

Meaning – the Western contribution to what is often missing from Eastern modalities, which is the active search for meaning. Why is this happening? What does this mean for me? What is the meaning of things? In highly educated, affluent societies, there is a natural tendency toward the top of the Maslow’s hierarchy, and brands would be wise to address such questions, where appropriate. For example, self-actualization includes the desire to express one’s unique creative impulses, which is a very powerful driver for the sale of laptops, smart phones and other devices. After all, I’m using a Macbook right now to pen my self-actualizing thoughts and share them with the world.

Liberated Intimacy  – this is the idea of relinquishing one’s attachment to pre-conceived frameworks and theories during the course of therapeutic treatment, which applies to both patient and therapist. Being intimate, while being agile and flexible when it comes to interpretations and treatments, is a powerful combination. Combine that with Awareness and the active search for Meaning, and you have created the optimal conditions for breakthroughs. This is also a powerful combination of principles for breakthroughs in business and advertising:  A practiced awareness or mindfulness of emotions and the emotional currents of society. An active seeking of a sense of meaning to what we do, what we buy, what we give our time to. A liberated intimacy with mass consciousness, a continuous dance where we’re both involved in the dance and aware of its movements. This is the Art of Flourishing as it relates to business.

We’re living in a wonderful time, one that Bill Bernbach or David Ogilvy would have enjoyed immensely. Where ancient and modern ideas are blending in ways never seen before. And where the creativity, business and society are doing a more complex dance than ever before. But since we can’t teleport them here, let’s instead “become” them and incorporate these kinds of ideas into our world view.