I’ve been thinking a lot about attention these days, what it is, how to harness it. What I’m starting to realize is that the skillful management of attention is the key to living a good life, and to improving virtually every aspect of life, from mood to productivity to relationships.
If we could just stay focused on the right things, our lives would stop feeling like a reaction to stuff that happens to us, and become something that we create; not a series of accidents, but a work of art, really.
I’m reading a fantastic book by Winifred Gallagher called Rapt —highly, highly recommended. She has a great metaphor for attention: the cobra. It’s a mental bearing-down on a subject or object, which you “rise above,” hood flaring to block distractions, and holding steady in your unblinking focus. It really works to think of and practice attention in this way.
With some practice and reflection, all of us can cultivate this profoundly attentive state and experience it more often. Paying rapt attention to how your day unfolds expands your inner boundaries and lifts your spirits.Staying focused is an excellent strategy for well being. The mastery of attention and being rapt is a skill, which, like any other skill, takes discipline and effort to develop. Focusing your attention on positive emotions such as kindness and hope and optimism expands your world, just as focusing on negative feelings shrinks it.
Matcha really does help with attention. Anytime I start a writing project or any task that requires some cognitive energy, having a shot or a full tumbler is a physical reminder — one that’s literally consumed — to pay attention. The l-theanine in combo with the small amount of caffeine in a serving of matcha is the best attention elixir I know of. But even the act of preparing it and drinking it “nudges” the brain into a good period of hyperfocus.
If you have any tips or tricks that help you stay focused, I’d love to hear about them .