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Paying Attention to Your Attention

by Beth on February 17th, 2022

A lot of different things impact your well-being. Attention is near the top of the list. Your ability to focus and the choices you make regarding what you pay attention to are both critical for your well-being.

A lack of focus impacts your performance, your stress levels, and your relationships. Productivity drops 40% when you try to focus on more than one thing. Your brain releases the stress hormone cortisol when you try to multitask. Your capacity to connect with others is diminished when you don’t focus on what they are saying and how they are feeling.

A lack of focus also impacts your ability to create memories. Do you sometimes forget where you left your keys? It’s possible that you didn’t forget, you just never remembered. You weren’t paying enough attention for your experience to be encoded as a memory. You can’t remember something you didn’t pay attention to in the first place.

It’s not just paying attention that matters, but what you pay attention to. It determines the experiences you have, and those experiences make up your life. You can choose to pay attention to the good things that happen or the bad. You can choose to focus on the story your spouse is sharing or on your text messages. You can choose to pay attention to your daughter’s volleyball match or to your social media feed. Your life is the sum of these choices.

We live in a world full of distractions. This makes it hard to focus on any one thing. And it means we must make constant choices about where to focus our attention.

Strengthen your ability to focus by getting enough sleep, practicing meditation, and minimizing distractions by turning off notifications or putting your phone away. Choose to pay attention to experiences that will bring you a happier, more fulfilled life. I choose to pay attention to the people around me, the book I’m reading, the words I’m writing, the food I’m eating, the music I hear, and the nature that surrounds me. What about you?

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