How does it feel to be in "the flow"?
Completely involved, focused, concentrating - with this either due to innate curiosity or as the result of training
Sense of ecstasy - of being outside everyday reality
Great inner clarity - knowing what needs to be done and how well it is going
Knowing the activity is doable - that the skills are adequate, and neither anxious or bored
Sense of serenity - no worries about self, feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of ego - afterwards feeling of trans...
"One of the primary ironies of modern education is that we ask students to 'pay attention' dozens of times a day, yet we never teach them how," Amy Saltzman elucidates in PBS's Mindfulness: A Teacher's Guide. "The practice of mindfulness teaches students how to pay attention, and this way of paying attention enhances both academic and social-emotional learning."
Mindful Schools recommends starting with a simple practice like mindful listening, where students sit in silence and notice ...
OK, Nicole, while you’re lying still, move your eyes around the room. Even without moving your head, you can see the lamp over on the table. Now look over at your baby pictures. See them? Now look at the bookcase. Can you see the big Harry Potter book there? Now look back at the lamp. Do you see how you have the power to focus your attention all over this room? That’s what I want to teach you about, but we’re going to focus your attention on what’s going on inside your mind and body. ...
An example of teaching a child how they can direct their attention at will.
Three decades ago, cognitive scientist Colin Martindale advanced the idea that each of us has several subselves, and he connected his idea to emerging ideas in cognitive science. Central to Martindale’s thesis were a few fairly simple ideas, such as selective attention, lateral inhibition, state-dependent memory, and cognitive dissociation. Although there are billions of neurons in our brains firing all the time, we’d never be able to put one foot in front of the other if we were unable t...
Douglas T. Kenrick explains how our senses are bombarded, so we filter. If we could not filter, we would become incapacitated.
Instead, Mischel discovered something interesting when he studied the tiny percentage of kids who could successfully wait for the second treat. Without exception, these “high delayers” all relied on the same mental strategy: They found a way to keep themselves from thinking about the treat, directing their gaze away from the yummy marshmallow. Some covered their eyes or played hide-and-seek underneath the desks. Others sang songs from Sesame Street, or repeatedly tied their shoelaces, or ...
Jonah Lehrer describes a characteristic of children who are later successful in life. They have much better self-control early in life, and they accomplish this by strategically allocating their attention elsewhere to avoid breaking the rules.
Whether you think of it as a sin, a
temptation, a lazy habit of mind, or a
medical condition, the phenomenon begs
the same question: why is it so damn hard
to pay attention?
It’s not necessarily our fault. As
neurologist Marcus Raichle learned after
decades of looking at the brain, our minds
are wired to wander. Wandering is their
default. Whenever our thoughts are
suspended between specific, discrete,
goal-directed activities, the brain reverts
to a so-called baseline, “resting” state...
Why is it so hard to maintain? The brain has a default "resting" state of inattetiveness, multitasking confuses our attentiveness.
When we want to engage, believe me,
we can. And not only will we then make
fewer mistakes of perception, but we will
become the types of focused, observant
people that we may have thought we were
incapable of becoming. Even children
who have been diagnosed with ADHD can
find themselves able to focus on certain
things that grab them, that activate and
engage their minds. Like video games.
Time after time, video games have proven
able to bring out the attentional resources
in people that they n...
And that attentional improvement rolls over into other areas of life.
When we are engaged in what we are
doing, all sorts of things happen. We
persist longer at difficult problems—and
become more likely to solve them. We
experience something that psychologist
Tory Higgins refers to as flow, a presence
of mind that not only allows us to extract
more from whatever it is we are doing but
also makes us feel better and happier: we
derive actual, measurable hedonic value
from the strength of our active
involvement in and attention to an activity,
even if the activi...
And it creates a cycle of enthusiasm as our accomplishments increase our positive outlook on the task, increasing our focus.
As children, we are remarkably aware. We absorb and process information at a speed that we’ll never again come close to achieving. New sights, new sounds, new smells, new people, new emotions, new experiences: we are learning about our world and its possibilities. Everything is new, everything is exciting, everything engenders curiosity. And because of theinherent newness of our surroundings, we are exquisitely alert; we are absorbed; we take it all in. And what’s more, we remember: becau...
In our youth, we are curious and attentive to every detail surrounding us, not yet distinguishing by the usefulness of the information. As adults, we take everything for granted, ignoring the familiar and walking through life in a mindless state.
Attention makes the genius; all learning, fancy, and science depend on it. Newton traced back his discoveries to its unwearied employment. It builds bridges, opens new worlds, and heals diseases; without it Taste is useless, and the beauties of literature are unobserved; as the rarest flowers bloom in vain, if the eye be not fixed upon the bed.
Everything else depends on being able to pay attention.