Wow, our attention is in high demand!
As I sit here on day 22 of my intensified home-stay (yes, I started early!) I am becoming acutely aware of a new strain on my attention. For example, there are people I like to follow, there are topics I like to stay updated on, I’m sure you know what I mean. But there is an explosion of the quantity of it! With almost half of humanity invited or coerced into staying home, a lot of our creativity and expression is now online.
Pay attention, it is so interesting!
As I work on my own online contributions and offers to help, I am connected with lots of people who are doing the same and all of a sudden it hit me this morning! I am going to have to make more disciplined choices. If I try to watch and read everything that comes my way from my usual trusted and loved sources, I will likely lose my mind.
A dear friend of mine sent me a 75-minute recording of what was a truly inspiring conversation she said. Someone I follow in the public space just posted a 15-minute pre-training, saying it was the first of several, to prepare his audience for a massively great stream of presentations he is putting together. My choir created a whatsapp group, I stepped away for little more than a day and when I looked, there were 173 unread messages, several of them were inspiring, heart-warming or funny short videos. I could go on.
In this new and unchartered territory of the confined life, for many of us our personal and professional relationships are now displaced onto our screen, for us to watch, listen and ultimately give our attention to.
But how to cultivate attention?
I am not a brain specialist but I do know from my experience that my mind needs rest. Time without stimulation is crucial for me to regenerate my very capacity for attention. I suspect the same may be true for you!
The only way to give my mind the rest it needs is to chose what I give my attention to. That’s not going to be easy, I do want to laugh at those funny videos, soften my heart with these beautiful videos, learn from those inspiring conversations, and experience the new kind of intimacy that some of my online communities are creating. But there is too much!
So what about happiness?
I often talk of the happiness that comes from living in harmony with ourself and with our environment. A new kind of discernment appears necessary to me:
Saying no to things I am in harmony with, to protect my very ability to be in harmony!
- What will you say yes to today?
- What will you say no to so that you can say that yes?
These are of course perennial questions. A no is a no only if a yes is a yes. But now there seems to be a need to say no to some of our yes’s.
A tragic parallel comes to my mind, the doctors who have to chose who to save.
Priorities for attention
There are plenty of sad and even tragic news vying for our attention. There are plenty of beautiful, wonderful, inspiring things inviting our attention. It for each of us to choose what to give our attention to, I thank you if you have given me your attention today.
If you need support, you can contact me here.
I wish you lots of courage because we can all use some.
Fouder of EUDOKIMA
Photo on Visual Hunt