The Era of Self-Transcendence – Part 2

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
– William James

In last week’s post, we introduced the idea of self-transcendence, and the inherent need for human beings to feel part of a bigger picture. It is the desire to actively contribute to a larger whole, and as a result, feel a true connection and involvement with humanity. This feeling can be attained in numerous ways, whether through humanitarian, environmental or spiritual efforts. The need expresses itself in interesting ways. For example:

  • 40% of Americans who practice yoga report having had “transcendent experiences,” which if you understand the origins of yoga in the Hindu tradition, is its exact purpose.
  • A 2016 study conducted by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) and Fidelity Investments found that 22% of companies have mindfulness training programs already in place, and another 21% plan to add a mindfulness training component in 2017.
  • Workplace mindfulness is spreading from Silicon Valley campuses to old-school corporate America, with Fortune 500 companies like Target, Nike and General Mills joining tech giants such as Google, Apple and Intel in offering meditation and yoga classes, nap rooms and mindful eating.
  • Whole Foods released its first national TV and print advertising campaign called “Values Matter” in 2014. The campaign advocates the importance of social responsibility and global consciousness, telling their audience to “Eat like an idealist” or to “Grow up strong, and harmless.”


Our celebrities and icons started playing here long ago, presaging what the rest of us were feeling. As he reached the peak of his career, Bono put his efforts behind eliminating global poverty. In this decade, Elon Musk speaks frequently and invests significantly to create a more sustainable world for future generations.

We used to think of these things as very “woo-woo” and fanciful, something for the elite or lunatic fringe. But that is clearly no longer the case.

Any brand wanting to stay relevant in the 21st century must start thinking about ways to matter beyond the individual selfish needs of a consumer or the needs of a business itself. Otherwise, we will be left behind as waves of people and communities in the developed world start moving into this space, to find a more meaningful purpose in life, to feel part of something much larger than themselves.

– WY & JS

Goldberg, Philip. American Veda: from Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation—How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. Three Rivers Press, 2013.
Wieczner, Jen. “Meditation Has Become Big Business.” Fortune, Mar. 12, 2016, fortune.com/2016/03/12/meditation-mindfulness-apps.
English, Bella. “Mindfulness Takes Hold in the Corporate Setting.” The Boston Globe, Aug. 7, 2015, bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/08/06/mindfulness-takes-hold-corporate-setting/3Kxojy6XFt6oW4h9nLq7kN/story.html.