Why I think Attention is at the centre of all joy, sadness, energy & performance

…And the whole wellbeing industry.

1. Attention precedes each experience we have

What we decide to (or let) our attention lend upon, temporarily takes-over our entire cognitive machinery for a moment. Our neurons wire in response to what we focus on in order to encode the information and ‘writes it’ in our brain. In a way we ‘become’ what we behold. It is a neuroscientific reality that attention shapes our brain along with the experience we have, which William James puts better than anyone else:

2. The reality we walk in is made up by our brain: Reality is essentially virtual

Once perceived, our view of the world is then heavily mediated during brain processing (aka our brain trying to make sense of stuff). The object of perception is filtered through our senses first, our past experiences and impressions: we interpret what we see to make sense of reality. A bunch of cognitive biases are further imposed upon our perception of the world by our cultural operating system, by our language, by our religious affiliation, our preconceptions and prejudice. Our World is already a construction.

3. We get used to EVERYTHING

Hedonic adaptation has it that whatever we are repetitively exposed to, we hardwire it into our brain… That’s why our brain eventually stops paying attention to it. It is true of the worst events and of the most joyful ones.

Familiarity sadly breeds boredom.

4. ‘Attentional stewarding’ is at the centre of the whole psychology and self-help industry

The definition of Attention is: to notice and be with something without trying to change it. That’s were meditation, yoga and breathing exercises come in. To help us become aware of our erratic attentional spotlight behaviour. We need all the helps we can get, to direct (or redirect) the spotlight of attention. It is no easy task.

In fact, if our reality-fabrication is as flimsy as it appears and well-being is highly dependent upon the management of attention, then our capacity to steer awareness and decide where to allocate the spotlight of attention is what I am truly passionate about. I like to call it stewardship of internal life. When we have or acquire the capacity to steward the content of consciousness: we can become architects of inner experience. It grants us precious control of our inner movie which is the key to any clear mind, peace and lasting satisfaction.

5. Designing Experience is possible and it is an art

Because attention is the fabric of reality, the art of ‘tweeking attention’ is at the centre of the entire self-help industry. The means that have been produced to facilitate attention steering are plentiful: meditation, affirmations, prayer, intentions, rituals, goal setting, mentra, mindset, therapy etc. Plentiful and redundant. Many of these techniques overlap extensively and it used to drive me mad. It doesn’t anymore. Life is an art and I have no scruple using different brushes to paint the colours and perspectives I prefer, mindfully.

Neurospychology researcher @Cambridge_uni turned Well-being Culture and Impact strategist. I use my craft to create the #futureOfLiving & the #FutureOfWork