â€œSomething attended to appears to change
even as one attends to it.â€
Father of American Psychology, William James
Ever think about what it means to â€œbeÂ attentiveâ€? Â Do we: Â (1) hold the object of our attentionÂ stillÂ in our mindÂ or (2) do weÂ varyÂ how we focus?
Harvard psychologist, Ellen Langer, studied K-12 students’ attention and found that most young peopleÂ (and their parents!) used theÂ first strategy, even though it’s not the mostÂ effective way to focus. Â Because our brain responds toÂ novelty, we cultivate aÂ vivid focusÂ when weÂ vary what we look forÂ in the object of our attention.
BecauseÂ it’s easier to practice taking charge of our attention when usingÂ an external object, we’llÂ use a photograph for this exercise. Â However, feel free to use aÂ “live” object. You simply have to BE STILL with it. Â
- Seek something familiar, something you routinely encounter in your life. Â Perhaps itâ€™s the peaches on your tree, the outline of your car,Â what your desk looks like at your office.
- Use your smartphone to take a picture of the object.
- At least three times during the day, take out this picture and create a vibrant and clearly perceptible image in your mindâ€¦ as if you are making room forÂ its distinct presence in your mind.
- Smile as you observe how you establishÂ your mental image.
Â© Copyright 2014 Maria Hunt