Pay attention

By Shane Parrish via http://www.farnamstreetblog.com   Article

Improve Your Life by Paying Attention

“… When you focus on a stop sign or a sonnet, a waft of perfume or a stock-market tip, your brain registers that ‘target,’ which enables it to affect your behavior. In contrast, the things that you don’t attend to in a sense don’t exist, at least for you.

All day long, you are selectively paying attention to something, and much more often than you may suspect, you can take charge of this process to good effect.Indeed, your ability to focus on this and suppress that is the key to controlling your experience and, ultimately, your well-being. …

So if attention is the key, what should you pay attention to? The positive.

… Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shows that paying attention to positive emotions literally expands your world, while focusing on negative feelings shrinks it — a fact that has important implications for your daily experience.

You have the ability to control what you focus on …

As to the idea that the ability to focus on this rather than on that gives you control over your experience and well being, Kahneman says that both the Dalai Lama and the Penn positive psychologist Martin Seligman would agree about the importance of paying attention: ‘Being able to control it gives you a lot of power, because you know that you don’t have to focus on a negative emotion that comes up.'”

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