This is, reportedly, the happiest man in the world. Matthieu Ricard, a French Buddhist monk. Naturally, meditation is part of his routine. He recommends half an hour a day for everyone. For the rest of us, there’s meditation’s little sister, mindfulness, which is very much in vogue. We are supposed to be in the moment, to attain contentment. The opposite of marketing, you’d think, which is all about consumption and wanting stuff, even if it’s more about collecting experiences than bling these days.

But mindfulness is hard. My mind constantly wanders into the past or into the future. Anyway, life is full of mundane tasks which don’t seem to merit the “in the moment” treatment. I have not yet found joy in the reflection, “I’m peeling potatoes”.

Here’s where marketing really can help. My proposal is that some mundane tasks and experiences can be repositioned. The result: you think differently about what the moment really is, and can stay in that moment more easily.

Positioning is not just semantics – it can really change how you think about something, and the benefit you see in it. That’s why it’s an important discipline, and a powerful tool for business. Bringing out the benefits, rather than simply describing the product or service, creates a greater sense of value. Look at how lottery and betting company advertising has moved to be about camaraderie, enjoyment, thrills – almost no functional communication at all. Because winning is so unlikely, most gambling brands lead on other benefits. Perhaps the most famous and long-standing appropriation of a high-level emotion is Coca Cola being about happiness. But at a more mundane, and perhaps more credible level, it helps to interrogate why we do what we do. That’s where daily tasks can benefit, from positioning rather than simple description. It can also bring us back into the moment instead of anticipating the future. “I’ve got to pick Anna up from school and get her home” becomes “I’m meeting Anna at the school gate. We’re going home together.”

As the world’s happiest man himself says, “Happiness is not the pursuit of an endless succession of experiences. That’s a recipe for exhaustion more than happiness. Happiness is a way of being.”

To be in the moment, reposition the moment.

Thought leadership | October 2017