Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do You Have Attention Surplus Disorder?

Night cancer. Ever had it? Sure you have. Those are the nights when you can't sleep and every pain grows worse and worse until you wonder if you will make it to the doctor or they will find you dead, and your worries about the job, or the bills, or the kids seem insurmountable. Yet, in the morning and as the day gets going, you wonder why you were worried so much the night before. Yep, we jokingly call it "night cancer" but it is all about where we choose to focus our attention and that has a lot to do with how we gain or lose our energy during the day and how we interact with the world around us.

Reading an article on www.positivepsychologynews.com I saw a quote from Marcus Buckingham that caught my eye, "attention amplifies everything." The more we pay attention to something eventually everything else fades until that is the only thing visible. It could be called Attention Surplus Disorder. So what happens when we focus our attention?

We are an age of uber-information. Bombarded with news and updates all day, we don't even brake for braking news because it is part of our lives. Yet where does all this information, mostly negative, get us? It creates a state of fear. Learning of the latest shooting, accident, or impending storm and being bombarded with constant updates our typical reactions are flight, fight or freeze. Subsequently our attention amplifies the threat and it looms larger than it might in reality. We do the same with any information about us so that "constructive feedback" grows monstrous until we believe we will be fired, or a snippy reply means that a friend, who we thought liked us, hates us.

Let's do a reality check. We need to be mindful threats against us, and to keep informed. But let's keep this in balance because the quickest way to squelch any attempt at achieving potential is to think that the entire environment around us is so threatening that we have to pull into survival mode.

Occasionally paying attention to the good news around us creates balance, like looking for the heros in current situations, or searching for stories where people helped others. Attention to these stories encourages and inspire us to the point that we believe we can do something similar. Even paying attention to a compliment and not ignoring it can be a wonderfully energizing moment in a day.

"Attention amplifies everything." So, where are you placing your attention during the day and is it helping you or inhibiting you at being your best? Shift your attention to what is good, those you love, or the good things in you and watch what happens to the good in your life. It gets amplified.

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