To stay on top of my work, I must constantly ponder: What macro-trends are accelerating our drive for well-being?
I posed this question to a group of colleagues who are tasked by their organizations to notice what’s happening at the edges of human wellness and cultural innovation. Five macro-trends rose to the top.
- Pop Goes the Values Bubble – Economic globalization, along with an explosion of communication technologies, has popped the self-contained bubble of values we’ve been living in, says Jamie Gordon, Vice President of Consumer Anthropology at Northstar Research. Instead of getting as caught up in the stuff of globalization or relying on popular culture to decide what’s of worth, the emerging middle class worldwide is starting to define well-being for themselves. They are seeking out a higher set of ideals, like purpose in life, physical vitality, a deeper intimacy in relationships and harmonious societies in which to live and work.
- Dematerializing Our Lives – The values bubble is also popping due to a shift in our relationship to material things. Tom LaForge, global director of Human and Cultural Insights at The Coca-Cola Company, explained, “We are dematerializing. Every internet enabled smartphone dematerializes cameras, photos, board games, phonebooks, books, book stores, big box stores, maps, GPS devices, MP3 players, encyclopedias and more.” From Boston to Bangkok to Berlin, human beings are becoming less identified with material wealth. That which is immaterial – the more meaningful “non-stuff” of happiness, well-being, generosity and the like – now has more room to grow in our daily lives.
- Wired for Health – Unlike the days when a trip to the doctor was a multi-hour affair, attending to our health is now becoming personalized and real-time. Rock Health, a health technology incubator, shared that the most promising health products are no longer one-size-fits-all solutions for the masses. They are innovations designed to serve individual needs, aspirations, phases of life and mobility. Lisa Traditi, leader of the Health Sciences Library at University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, concurred, “Mobile health applications now allow us to track our exercise, set goals for weight loss and measure our pulse – all from a smartphone.”
- Well-Being for Purchase – As globalization makes our world smaller and technologies connect us, we’re more mindful of the consequences our behaviors have on the people and environment around us. Decisions as seemingly minor as buying a mug of fair trade coffee remind us that every action can foster well-being in our own lives and the lives of others. As Northstar’s Gordon says, “We are starting to see that our dollars, in no matter how small an amount on an individual level, have an impact when we act as a collective toward a common goal. We are therefore not only starting to demand that the companies we buy from do more to benefit society, but we demand more from ourselves.”
- Or Are We Sicker? – Sadly, not all of our drive toward well-being comes from inspiration. Much of it is in reaction to worldwide epidemics of communicable and non-communicable diseases. How did we become a world full of such sickness? Maria Stefan, president of ChaseAmerica Group, believes we can blame a “toxic combination of poor social policies, weak government health care capacity, recessionary economics and impacts from rapid urbanization, aging populations and twenty-first century lifestyles.”
(Read more of this article at: http://www.marmapoints.org/features/317-good-health-is-trending)