How Much Attention Do You Need?

by Jay Deragon on 07/03/2008

More and more we’re continuously getting bombarded for our attention. Email, snail mail, cell phones, instant messaging, invitations to join yet another social network, business demands, bills-paying are all vying for our time and are all coming from and through people from everywhere in the world.

Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Sometimes attention shifts to matters unrelated to the external environment, a phenomenon referred to as mind-wandering or “spontaneous thought”. Attention is one of the most intensely studied topics within psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

William James, in his monumental Principles of Psychology (1890), remarked:

“Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreutheit in German.”

How Much Attention Have You Received?

All this “social stuff” really boils down to getting or giving attention.  The problem is that until we really know consciously how to give and get attention appropriately, we get more and more frustrated, feel we can’t catch up with our lives to get any personal time and space to “smell the roses!”

The real power behind all this “social stuff” lies with understanding the power of attention and how it shapes our entire outlook on life and, more importantly, how it impacts all our relationships

What Is It?

Alice Aspen March is getting ready to release a book titled :The Attention Factor, What is it?  Alice has researched the powerful influence attention has on our lives from birth to death.  Alice writes “Research has proven that attention is a core need for every human being. Our earliest experiences that seek to satisfy that need stay with us for the rest of our lives. Early patterns and responses tend to show up over and over again in all our relationships – at home and at work, with our old and new families, and with our lovers and ourselves”

“When we pull our attention away from where we are, we are creating an attention deficit right in that moment; the people we’re with feel devalued, unsupported, unheard and invisible.”

“If we adults let ourselves be consumed by all our various technologies, we actually create attention deficits wherever we go. By paying attention actively and wholly to our personal connections, we can enrich our lives and the lives of others”

Alice has subsequently created a course about The Attention Factor® which will be available online and through public seminars this fall.

As we continue to become surrounded/engaged by all this “social stuff”, managing it for personal gains starts with first learning how and why to manage our own attention. The dynamics we are all facing becomes the Paradox of Choice, which we will elaborate on in future post.

What say you?

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