Top 10 Trends of 2014

Some of the key trends that shaped 2014:
  1. Inequality – The growth in inequality, both within countries and between countries, was one of the key themes of the year, from Obama’s speech in the beginning of the year to Thomas Piketty’s book which defined large parts of the academic debate.
  2. Commoditization of all assets – This was the year that the sharing economy really took hold, with all its many positive effects, but also giving a feeling that there is an ongoing commoditization of all assets – from the car you drive (Uber), to your apartment (Airbnb), to your time (Taskrabbit).
  3. Mindfulness – This was the year that mindfulness and meditation became huge, with the increased popularity of smartphone apps like Buddhify and Silicon Valley companies all competing to offer the most mindfulness-friendly environment.
  4. U.S. Energy independence – OPEC’s decision to not take action on their production the other week feels like a defining moment for the shale revolution and the US energy independence.
  5. Payments finally going mobile – There have been many promising mobile payment solutions, but now with the launch of Apple Pay, it feels like this might finally be about to take off. A group in Sweden have already implanted chips into their bodies, in order to not even have to whip out their smartphone.
  6. Robotics – Robotics is on the verge of a breakthrough, perhaps not yet in terms of consumer robots, but at least in terms of manufacturing and automation. Nowhere was this more clear than with Google buying up robotics companies left, right and center this year, like Boston Dynamics and DeepMind.
  7. Miniaturization – Another interesting Google announcement this year was the Google smart contact lens, a contact lens with sensors that can measure health stats, showing the enormous potential of miniaturization and sensors in everything.
  8. The rise of a Sino-centric Asia – With China forming its own development banks to rival the World Bank and IMF, it has thrown down the gauntlet to start shaping Asia in its image. The ADIZ in the East China Sea was put up last year, and one in the South China Sea seems to be just a matter of time.
  9. Immortality – This year saw a steady rise in the use of health-tracking devices, techniques to extend human lives, and not to mention diets with less calorie consumption meant to extend life.
  10. Smart Urbanization – The world is getting more and more urbanized, with more than 50% of the world’s population in cities since a few years back. The need is therefore for smart urban solutions. This year saw this trend taking shape, with architects, designers and entrepreneurs joining urban planners in designing smart solutions.

Daily mini-meditations to improve your productivity

Mindfulness and meditation are being preached everywhere, even as a business tool, and its health benefits are becoming more and more clear. Yet, we all know how hard it is to actually take the time in our daily lives.

Therefore, I’m now testing out doing mini-meditations. These can be built in to daily life by flipping the every day wasted moments. By taking something that was neutral, or even negative, and turning it into something positive, we can flip our emotions and go further on the path of achieving greater well-being. This is an old judo technique – using your enemy’s force to your own benefit.

Examples include sitting aimlessly waiting for a file to copy or standing by the copy machine waiting for it to warm up. During these moments, take the time to close your eyes, empty your mind and focus on your breathing. Resist the temptation to see how long you have left, and be grateful for a second to focus on yourself instead.

Even these tiny, meditative moments will be helpful for achieving greater mindfulness in your life.