A is for ATTENTION

Attention is what you choose to focus your energy on.

I always say that my attention is my most prized possession. When it comes to attention there is a choice; I can always choose where I place my attention. My mind is constantly battling against the many distractions that exist (including my own thoughts) but I am learning how to better deal with that.

Your attention is so important; what you attend to shapes your experience, which shapes your decision making, which ultimately shapes your life.

What you pay attention to will determine how you perceive the world.

Life could be spent engaging in meaningless activities that only serve to temporarily fill that window of boredom and give you ephemeral highs that do nothing but leave you on a chase.

We all know that time does not wait for anyone, and I aim to be intentional with my time by being mindful of what I give my attention to.

Here are a few things I stopped paying attention to and better off without.

The News

• I do not watch any news channels

• I do not follow any kind of news on social media

• I do not read the newspaper

• I do not listen to the radio

The majority of news I used to consume often evoked some kind of negative feelings and I did not like it.

Maybe it is good to know what is going on in the world, when people discuss the latest happenings, at times I do feel ignorant and unable to contribute to the conversation. With that said, I feel as though not knowing far outweighs the consequence of being barraged with information that causes me to feel fearful, anxious, sad or angry.

Other People

• I used to watch daily vlogs all of the time

• I also spent a lot of time watching people’s snapchat & Instagram stories

• I no longer watch reality TV shows

• Celebrity gossip is something that does not interest me

I am not saying the above is a bad thing, but I realised that watching someone else’s life does nothing significant for me. Living vicariously through someone else can actually serve a purpose in terms inspiration/motivation. But one needs to be mindful of being consumed and wrapped up in that individual’s life. Ask yourself; am I acting on this inspiration? Is watching this person adding value or happiness to my life or am I just bored?

Notifications

• Turning off my notifications was a game changer

• I now choose when to look at my phone and not the other way around

• My phone no longer dictates my attention

I wanted to be more deliberate with how I use my phone, I now think of it as a personal tool rather than an object of entertainment.

There have been many occasions when I have felt overwhelmed with the number of notifications I had received and it made me feel out of control. I decided to turn off the notifications on apps I deemed non-essential or that did not require an immediate response from me; (one could argue that nothing on your phone requires an immediate response, but that’s for another day) which includes social media, language, dating, music and video apps. It was a matter of recognising how something made me feel and changing that to make myself feel better.

Not paying attention to the news, other people’s lives and stopping notifications has meant that I reduce the noise and gain more control of what I give my energy and therefore attention to.

You could spend your time scrolling and switching from one app to another and doing something that does not really engage nor add value to your life.

Or you could be mindful, and intentional with the time you have; learn a new skill, find a way to improve your health and wealth, meet up with that person you have been longing to reconnect with, amongst many other things.

You see time is precious but your attention is even more so.

It is up to you to decide what deserves something so invaluable.

Live a life with intention by using your attention more wisely.

 

Stereotypes

The first definition on Google that popped up defined stereotypes as:

“a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing”.

The key issue is that it’s oversimplified, and it’s a belief based on an encounter with one particular person.

Firstly, we are all unique, yet stereotypes convince us to believe a general set of rules for a group of people. Stereotypes assume that this group of people whether it’s based on their race, gender, religion etc are an homogeneous group.

But no one is the same.

I was having this discussion with my friend.

Society has conditioned us to believe that x person behaves in x way because they are from x group.

Stereotypes create prejudice.

And I do not see the benefits of preconceptions and prejudgements?

This is why one must be open.

You must be aware of the stereotypes that you believe in, willing to park them to side and decide for yourself what this human is like once you have had a first hand experience with them.

Be aware that because stereotypes are a widely held belief, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. In fact, it could be the furthest thing from the truth.

When you wholeheartedly believe in them you allow society to make a decision for you.

No human is the same, therefore no group are the same.

We are a heterogeneous group of people who tend to accept homogeneous ideologies. When you really think about it, it doesn’t seem to make sense, yet at times we don’t question it.

I have been trying to notice what stereotypes have shaped my expectations of others. What stereotypes have blindsided me and clouded my judgement?

You could try and do the same.

You’ll realise that your perception of reality has been skewed because society told you that this group are like this.

I agree that stereotypes can be born out of a real encounter. BUT this was based on the actions of one individual. And according to the definition, this one individual has now become the spokesperson who apparently answers for all. However, that was their experience and it was true for them, this doesn’t mean that it’s true for everyone who for example, may look like them.

Stereotypes, biases, prejudice are all very limiting. If you remain unaware, don’t look inwards and recognise that you play into these beliefs then understand that you haven’t thought for yourself. Society has done that for you.

Imagine if we all just viewed one another as human beings. Human beings that are simply experiencing life in their own way. Yes the way they live may be very different from yours, and that’s not a good or bad thing it’s simply different.

None of our experiences are equal. We all live life through our own unique lens.

Your lens is right for you and someone else’s lens is right for them.

So my advice is to experience as many people as you possibly could from all walks of life.

You’ll not only learn something about someone else you learn something about yourself.