Brain Bulletin #86 - Do You Make this Mistake with Your Attention?

in Brain Bulletin

Ralph Waldo Emerson was once asked what people would do if the stars came out only once every thousand years. He responded, "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years, how man would marvel and stare."

He was right.

We would stay up all night watching and wondering. But the stars come out every night, and so we watch television. Brains habituate.

It's that time of year when legions of grads are moving out into 'the real world'. If I was to give them one piece of advice, it would be that you don't need my advice. You really don't.

Instead, pay attention to your attention. Because you become what you pay attention to. What captures your attention controls your brain, and your life.

David Foster Wallace put it this way, "Learning how to think" really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be..."

Here is the challenge:
Your attention is so closely connected  to your brain's wiring it becomes difficult to be aware of and to recognize your own pattern of giving attention. Patterns that you have been wiring into your brain since birth. Change your attention, change your life. This is difficult, except it's not. You can mindfully wire your brain to do this.

Here's a video to help. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did: This is Water

Looking for a place to begin? Start listening to people. Really listening. Most people never get listened to. Listen to understand, not just to respond. With practice you will find your brain becoming more flexible....more open to new ideas. And that enriches all of us.

Congratulations, grads....go make someone else's life extraordinary....

Remember, "When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." ~George Washington Carver

Something else for grads: Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Congratulations on learning something about your brain today. The Brain Bulletin is committed to help to do just that. If you missed any Brain Bulletins you can find them in the Brain Bulletin Archive: Brain Bulletin Archive

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My favorite book this month was "Pendulum - How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future" by Roy H. Williams and Michael R. Drew. This book made me smarter.

It's been a crazy busy couple of months. Highlights include: presentations in Victoria, Vancouver, Whistler, and Portugal. I also got to speak to the Vancouver Whitecaps and at the BC Executive Forum.

In the next few weeks, I speak to Sonrise Church, BC Hydro, Delta DTAC, BC Homeschool Conference, and Metro Vancouver. Looking further ahead, I will be speaking in Sweden and San Francisco this August.

It's almost hiking season here in British Columbia. I'm all set.