Measure the Cost of Your Attention

You are on a beautiful beach with your favourite martini on a bright sunny day. The sky is azure and the breeze is cold. The scenery comprising palm trees, blue waters, and white sand is splendid.

But wait… you are not actually there… you are not experiencing all this…you are somewhere else… you’re thinking about pending tasks, or in an imaginary conversation with someone. Or maybe you’re  planning a new venture or maybe thinking about the party you visited last weekend.

Work, conversations, socializing, parties, all can enormously add to your life but you are not accomplishing any of that. You are not there. While your body is rooted in now, in the present, it’s your mind pondering over the past or anticipating the future. This wandering won’t accomplish anything. You will only miss out on this beautiful evening at the beach.

man thinking
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay 

Mindfulness is doing a task and maintaining attention until the task is complete. It’s doing one thing without being distracted by anything in the process. Simply put, it means to live in the present. To experience reality as it is.

***

There’s a lot of talk going on about shrinking attention spans.

Improving focus and getting the most out of the day is a big struggle for people. “I do not have enough time”, “I’ve got so much to do”, “My schedule is hectic” are some of the things that one gets to hear way too often these days. 

When you are not mindful, it shows. All aspects of your life suffer.

You can’t help but check your phone over and again even while reading a book, watching a movie, or preparing a presentation. You also hesitate in acknowledging that your attention is scattered all the time. But the truth is you don’t want to think of yourself as one who is distracted by meaningless stuff and unable to focus on goals. You go into denial about the state of your attention span.

young boys using phone
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay 

***

Your attention is for sale. 

Anywhere in the world you go, you are likely to see an advert. From stamps on eggs in the supermarket to messages on subway turnstile, distractions in the form of advertisements are everywhere. Be it an airplane, jersey of an NBA player, or any website, everything has something to tell you (or better say sell you).

Gone are the days when marketers used to reach people through TV or newspapers or magazines. Now they are trying to catch the consumer’s eye literally at every turn. 

This proves that your attention is prized possession and everyone wants it. In this materialistic and consumerist society, attention equals consumption and consumption equals profit. You are a consumer of information, goods, services, and content. Everything is there to get hold of your attention and drive you towards consumption  

Even if you wish to be mindful, everything is there to distract you, get hold of your attention. 

Swan close up
Image by Thomas Wilken from Pixabay 

***

Technology is hijacking your attention. 

It is a long-standing belief that the positives of digital life will outweigh the negatives. However, as in all great technological revolutions, digital life has and will continue to have a dark side. The problem with digital technology is that it is reducing your attention span.

You are fed with the information that you think you need. The greater choices are given to you in terms of information, events, friends, dating, jobs, the more you assume that your phone, your computer is the most empowering and useful addition to your life. You fail to realize that everything is designed to hook you, make you stay a little longer, or to distract you. Technology, the Internet are tools to get hold of your attention.

phone animation
Image by FunkyFocus from Pixabay 

***

Reclaim your focus. 

Focus is when you are in the moment. You are mindful and not engrossed in futile anticipation of the future events and reminiscence or remorse of the past. The fact is past and future are nothing but experience and anticipation in the imagination. They are not real and have nothing to do with your present, contrary to what you are conditioned to believe.

The present is always existential and nothing else matters. Being in the present is the job at hand. Being mindful is as easy as it is to breathe. Here is your guide to mindfulness.

Takeaway ~ 

Current belief – Be a multitasker 

In popular culture – August Birch in his medium article says multitasking is quite real and here to stay. He also very effectively states the difference between multitasking and multi-focus.

As per the philosophy of coexistence, the present is what is real, and living in the present is what matters. Humans are not meant to multitask and recent studies prove the same. These unwholesome ideas like multitasking and rampant consumerism are the result of false ideas prevalent in society. Human beings can never be truly happy in the non-stop consumption of goods and in purposeless accumulation of exciting commodities. The reality of life lies in becoming aligned with your existential role and purpose and staying in it forever. And it is possible when you draw your attention away from the endless offerings of the consumerist world toward the real, existential reality.