“While the link between attention and excellence remains hidden most of the time, it ripples through almost everything we seek to accomplish.”- Daniel Goleman
Today’s society can be defined by the word “technology.” We have all sorts of technology like never before. We have our smart phones, our tablets, computers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and YouTube. We have all the information of the world at our fingertips.
For the most part, this technology is good. It keeps us more informed. The speed at which we can now communicate is instantaneous! It helps us to stay connected with friends and relatives.
On the other hand, all of the bombardment of information is causing us to have difficulty focusing and attending to what is most important. It is causing “information overload.” Herbert Simon, a Nobel-winning economist said in 1977, “Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
We have difficulty paying attention to our work because we can’t resist doing some quick shopping online, checking our emails, or checking to see what is happening on Facebook. Our person to person conversations are lacking because we are too engrossed into what is showing up on our screens.
Often times, we only see the tops of the heads of our children because they are too busy with a computer game. Reading, and socializing take a back seat. Does this sound familiar?
Are you one of the millions of adults who are now having difficulty focusing and paying attention because you are addicted to your technology?
It seems as though this is becoming an epidemic. Our attention spans are getting shorter. In fact, many adults are now showing symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and are self-medicating.
When we look at people who are affected with ADD, they are more likely to have difficulty keeping a job. They are more likely to have relationship and emotional issues.
The ability to focus and to attend to the task at hand is essential to personal success.
In fact, best-selling author, Daniel Goleman calls the ability to focus “the cornerstone of success in all areas of your life.
“Focus is a handful of essential life abilities, each based in a separate neural system, that guide us through the turbulence of our inner lives, our relationships, and whatever challenges life brings,” according to Richard Davidson, neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin.
Yet, in the 21st century, we are having greater difficulty maintaining our focus. We have a tendency to daydream, waste hours cruising the web, and do the bare minimum required. Our attention is distracted by thousands of stimuli coming at us at one time.
Perhaps the most powerful distraction is not the environment but rather the chatter of our own minds!
You could be sitting in a business meeting and your head is saying, “I need to get back to that report I was writing.” “I shouldn’t have said what I said to Ted a little while ago.” “I wonder if I have any texts?” All this causes the mind to wander and not to be fully focused, thus not fully effective.
Attention that is highly focused gets fatigued much like an overworked muscle. The only antidote for attention fatigue is to rest it. The following activities are prescriptions for restoring attention and focus:
According to Daniel Goleman, “mindfulness practice strengthens focus, particularly executive control, working memory capacity, and the ability to sustain attention.” The benefits of practicing mindfulness can be seen in as little as twenty minutes of practice for just four days.
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To your success,
David C Figueroa
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net