I’ve been quietly making little notes to myself on Twitter for a few weeks as the year winds down to a close. I’ve been hashtagging the notes #lifeisattention so I can find them easily later. The short format of Twitter forces me to keep things concise and specific, which is also good when your attention is a little wayward. ADDCrusher on Facebook makes good use of the brief format of Facebook updates in a similar way.
[For the non-social-media nerds, a hashtag is a way that you can mark tweets by topic with a keyword, to make them easier to find later. There are other uses for hashtags, but that's part of my day job doing web marketing.]
I mean something fairly specific when I say “life is attention.” It’s shorthand for a bigger idea. When I say “life is attention,” I’m reminding myself of a simple but vital truth:
While you give something your attention, you’re giving it that part of your life.
Our experience of life is filtered. For an idea of what I mean when I say “filtered,” check out the movie Limitless to see a guy who has the filters on his attention and perception removed. To get all biblical on y’all, “For now we see now as through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Our wee human brains are only picking up 3 snowy channels, but reality is actually 900 channels in high def 3D.
But back to the idea of attention. If your life is a movie, your attention is the director of photography. Attention is the porthole through which we experience our lives. And we all leave it on autopilot a rather alarming amount of the time.
Also, I personally have issues with attention and focus. My attention is like a shopping cart or steering wheel that pulls to one side or the other. Just keeping on a path is sometimes difficult. It can be hard work, but I’ve learned that if I don’t manage my attention, it will create situations that will manage me.
So managing attention is a big deal for me. It is probably the one thing I have control over which has the biggest impact on the story I’m telling with my life. So I need constant reminders that when I’m dealing with my attention, hard as it may be, it’s important.
As with everything else in life, I’m going to be posting notes here as I have little insights, or hit into particularly thorny problems in managing attention. If you have any good stuff to share about managing your attention, drop it in the comments or hit me up on twitter. Feel free to steal #lifeisattention if you think it’d be helpful to you.