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Improve Your Life by Paying Attention

Stashed in: Inclusion, Brain, Attention, Awesome, Kaizen, Life Hacks, Books, Self Improvement, Be here now., Self-Actualization, Mindfulness

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What is attention anyways?

Attention is commonly understood as “the concentration of the mental powers” or “the direction or application of the mind to any object of sense or thought. Recently, however, a rare convergence of insights from both neuroscience and psychology suggests a paradigm shift in how to think about this cranial laser and its role in behavior: thoughts, feelings, and actions. Like fingers pointing to the moon, other diverse disciplines from anthropology to education, behavioral economics to family counseling similarly suggest that the skillful management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience, from mood to productivity to relationships.

If you could look backward at your years thus far, you’d see that your life has been fashioned from what you’ve paid attention to and what you haven’t. You’d observe that of the myriad sights and sounds, thoughts and feelings that you could have focused on, you selected a relative few, which became what you’ve confidently called “reality.” You’d also be struck by the fact that if you had paid attention to other things, your reality and your life would be very different.

If this sounds a lot like mindfulness, you’re on the right track. And there is no one better to learn from than Sherlock Holmes.

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I think smartphones have made it a lot harder for me to concentrate my mental powers.

I need to come up with a system that will suitably motivate and reward me for not looking at my smartphone.

Wow.  Perfect.  Thanks for stashing here!  

Hmm, I'm trying the opposite route, trying to hack my smartphone addiction to make me pay more attention to stuff that matters...

Ernie, how do you do that?

I just said I'm trying, not that I've succeeded. :-/  A few hacks I'm working on:

- "Reminders" for everything my wife tells me to do

- Facebook Notifications for extended family members I want to stay more in touch with

- MapMyRun to be reminded that other people are working out (also, earlier)

- WordsWithFriends to maintain weak ties with marginal friends I don't see enough in person

- Instapaper to capture the topics I'd like to be an expert in

Conversely, I also have a rule about no iPhone after 9 PM; I got a Kindle so the only electronic thing I can do near bedtime is read. :-)

I like Google Keep for reminders and lists.   

I was wondering how Google Keep was working out for you.

No iPhone after 9pm is a good rule but I could never get into Kindle because I love my iPad.

I guess "no iPhone after 9pm" rule is invalidated if I use the iPad after 9pm?

I used to love Words With Friends until Zynga bought them. Now I refuse to use it.

I wish there were a non-Zynga one. I have the Scrabble app but no one else seems to.

A gift for you:  It's the best version of interactive Boggle.

Never heard of it. Will look for it.

Well, there's the visual focus and linear chronology of mental rhetoric and then there's the omnipresent felt sensation, which are two differentiable experiences of paying attention.  The visual and mental experience tends to accentuate a hard focus and definable things, whereas felt sensing elicits more penetrating clarity of hemispheric, or sphere-like, awareness of emanating in and out around you.

It's possible to get better at both, depending upon what you practice...

I never realized there were TWO types of focus. Mind blown.

Yeah, our human nervous (endocrine) system and enteric brain is far more aware and astute of our environmental dimensions, and when channels are cleared and well tuned, that awareness is perhaps a far superior and dominating force of experience to reckon with...

Seems like a "brain tune-up" is not just a science fiction concept.

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