James Bond, the Ultimate Mindful Spy

by Caitlin Krause

I must admit, I initially went to see Spectre in the theater for one prime reason: eye candy. Yes, my motivation was all about the external appeal: I wanted to dive into a light panoplied spectacle that’s equal parts engaging and artificial; to lose myself in iconic imagery, and to revel in watching easy-on-the-eyes Daniel Craig as James Bond in the flesh.

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Why is Bond so palatable, across generations, sexes, cultures and creeds? Bond is as familiar as he is idolized; men want to be him; women want to date him. Or, women want to be him and men want to date him — it actually doesn’t matter how you slice it; he’s an archetype for the ages; a brand’s dream. Now, with everything from 007 drinks to anti-perspirant, there’s a whole range of products catering to those who want to “be Bond” (or, at least, smell like him).

So, what’s the secret that makes Bond stick? It’s an appeal that’s much deeper than skin. Yes, he’s the quintessential sexy Brit — yet, he also represents something universally appealing to our core sensibility as humans.

Spy and agent activity aside, the following five aspects of Bond’s behavior are mindful hallmarks:

1 — He’s self-directed. James Bond understands the bigger picture, and he usually knows the next steps he needs to take, without always waiting for direction and instruction from authority figures. In this way, he exhibits modern leadership traits of self-reliance and strength. His superiors (Ralph Fiennes among them, as the new “M”) learn to give him a certain amount of autonomy, promoting modern teamwork models of self-management and mutual trust.

2 — He’s radically honest. Bond rarely (if ever) feigns friendship. He’s true to his allies, and his opponents know where he stands. He usually gives others the benefit of the doubt, until his trust is compromised. He even sometimes puts himself in vulnerable positions (such as visiting enemy lairs and hangouts) in the hopes of gaining knowledge and forming alliances. He’s cautious, yet open, which often gives him a hidden advantage… and, heightens the drama.

3 — He’s patient. Strategic and contemplative, Bond knows how to wait for the opportune moment. He’s not impulsive — rather, he’s direct and deliberate. He plans, without over-thinking to the point of rumination. Impressive in his own circumspect manner, he also delays/denies his own fun… if he’s pushed to sacrifice it, that is. The opening scene of Spectre is case-in-point: is Bond’s female companion from the festival in Mexico City still waiting for him to return to their hotel room? In a classic comic scene, she asks him where he’s going, he disappears out the window, telling her that he’ll “be right back”… yet, way leads unto way, and it seems there are more important matters at hand.

4 — He knows how to focus. Along with the above point, Bond knows how to be fully engaged in the present moment, without fixating on past and future. This doesn’t mean that he can’t learn from his experiences, yet he doesn’t let them distract him from his goals. In fact, we see any fixation on ghosts from the past revealed as a weakness, which is part of the theme of Spectre. What might haunt him instead becomes an advantage when he learns how to apply his knowledge and focus to the present moment.

5 — He can kick off his shoes and have a good time. Basically, Bond would be a fun date. I’m not certain if he’s much of a conversationalist, yet he seems to appreciate the moments of joy (ahem!) along the way. He can joke around a bit, and he often pauses between the high-stress moments in order to appreciate the finer details. He likes his martinis shaken, not stirred, and he loves the thrill of the ride (after all, it’s all about the journey, right?). Fineries aside, I could certainly imagine Bond appreciating the beauty in a reflective moment… fleeting as it might be.

Yes, while I could point out all of the mindful aspects of his personality and behavior, certainly Bond’s propensity for fisticuffs would discredit him from becoming the mindful poster-boy. Still, for me, it’s compelling to consider that much of the Bond attraction could be due to his cool, calm, collected persona. Developing a life of his own seems to be his next mission… This just might be the ultimate mindful message: in the end, Bond chooses personal love over his agent identity. Could this be his moment of mindful redemption? If so, love really does conquer all.



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