We live in a state of constant stimulation. We have 12 apps on our phone we feel compelled to check. We have 4 text conversations going on at a time. We quickly scan this article and that post and this advertisement. We have 3 projects going on at work and 5 phone calls to make. We are mentally jumping around from thing to thing and paying no focused attention to any. And what’s worse is we’re always in a hurry, zapping through our feed and going full power thumbs on a text. Most people would prefer to read a quick bulleted list than a beautiful novel just so they can get to the next thing faster. We are absorbing more information and frankly, more bullshit, than necessary. Something cool is happening and our first thought is “Ah I gotta snap this!”, right? While sharing is amazing, missing out on your experience by splitting your attention is not. The “highlight reel”, so to speak, of everyone’s lives is projected for all to see. Then we compare. We’re wondering how the next person, the next moment, the next thing could be better. How other times and things could be better than right now. And we don’t even realize how much that is effecting our experiences, our relationships, and our overall happiness.
This level of distraction is new to this generation and it can be pretty overwhelming at times. This has resulted in a deep sense of attention deficit that is getting exponentially worse. We don’t fully notice or appreciate everything around us. We don’t notice how good the sun feels on our walk into the office or tune in to a kid’s belly laugh in line at the grocery store. We don’t fully engage with the friend sitting across the table. Even if we’re not on our phone, our mind still might be in a thousand places. Instead of truly listening to what they are saying, we might be thinking about what we want to say instead. We feel scattered. We feel a lack. Something’s missing, and I know what it is.
Our attention. Our undivided, focused, beautiful attention. Definitive awareness of our existence. Because I promise you, there is absolutely nothing more fascinating than this moment. It is all we will ever have.
We need to slow down. We need to make a conscious effort to rein it in. I challenge you to take a deep breath and pay attention-in everything you do and everyone you speak to. See if you can focus your energy on that one person, that one moment, that one thing. Slow down for long enough to feel the energy pulsing through your being. Because one day you’ll look back and realize you never focused your attention on the things that matter the most. You didn’t experience the moment in it’s full and perfect glory because your mind was elsewhere. You didn’t savor the little moments because you were thinking about the next one. You’ll wish you looked into her eyes a few seconds longer. You’ll wish you took your time. You’ll wish you paid attention. I don’t mean to be dark, but you are not going to live forever and it is very important to remember that. That is what makes every moment incredible. We will all run out of them and I’ll be damned if I didn’t pay attention to every single one I was given. I wrote something a few years ago that is relevant to this topic:
Impermanence is the root of human passion. We are fleeting bursts of energy on a beautiful spinning speck of dust. The transient nature of all that we know turns every living thing into a brilliant miracle, every breath into a rare gift, and every love into inexplicable magic.
So test yourself. See if you can take a step back and bring awareness to the moment you are in. Immerse yourself in it. Live in slow motion. See everything, hear everything, feel everything. Open your eyes, there are magical things happening all around you. Pay attention.