Believe it or not, the moment you open your eyes, get out of the bed in the morning, get ready for a new day, you are already a wanted person, even though you don’t feel like it. Guess which part of you is the most sought after by the world? Your attention that is – the invisible but super highly valuable asset you’ve ever had. Look around, it’s not hard to understand why. You step out the door, go to places, watch for the traffic lights, the road signs, the cars. When driving or crossing the streets, your close attention on the traffic conditions keeps you safe and sound. Meanwhile, there’re tons of distractions from all corners of the world are also fighting for your attention. Somehow, within your conscious mind, you decide to block them all and only focus on one thing that matters most – the road safety. However, as soon as you arrive at your destination, you check your phone or other mobile devices, read your Facebook feeds or new emails, before you know it, another round of battle for your attention has already begun. Day in and day out, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when you sleep. The world wants your attention badly. If your attention isn’t your most important asset, then what is?
To conceptualize the idea of attention, a good way to start is looking at its closest cousins – thoughts. Much has been said about our thoughts and how important it is to watch what we’re thinking in our heads as it can lead to how we speak to ourselves and others, how we act and react to circumstances we are in. Ever wondering how many thoughts do we have a day? Let’s Google it and see. And? What are the numbers? Thousands! I’m amazed by just how those neuroscientists or researchers came to their conclusions. Assuming those numbers they came up with are right, it goes to show how complicated and thoughtful creatures we as human beings really are. To me, thoughts alone aren’t enough to make or break our days. It’s thoughts that we pay attention to make or break our days. Furthermore, since we can only hold one thought at one time, then the quality of our output all depend on choices we make consciously and subconsciously.
Like it or not, the world is a biased place. It has favuoritism towards positivity. Our attention can go through the roof, work their way to sabotage us if we spend too much time dwelling on negativity. I don’t think negative thinking is that big deal but it’ll become one if we give more weight than it deserves and let it expand out of control. Take my recent experience as an example, the other day I found myself getting more passive aggressive at work. The trigger? I didn’t feel appreciated. It sounds like a silly reason, doesn’t it? I’m sure no one likes to feel underappreciated or underrated especially when someone fails to show appreciation in a way we expected. The question is: Should we be the ones pay the price for it? In my case, I kept hanging on the same thought- not feeling appreciated and the moment I captured myself falling into the deep trap, I started asking myself: Why am I still paying attention to something that clearly doesn’t serve me? How should I stop it? Paradoxically, the harder I tried to stop it, the more emphasis I placed on it, the more attention it got from me and the deeper I got stuck in it.
Later that day when I got home, I no longer got hung up by my earlier thought as there were more important things in my place for me to focus on. I realized: to shift our attention, it’s not about getting an old thought out of our heads or de-focusing. It’s about letting a new thought into our heads and re-focusing. Do you agree? If you’ve read this post up to this point, I thank you for your attention…