The Power of Attention

The Power of Attention
The Power of Attention

My children were in their teens when social media became ‘a thing’ (anyone remember My Space?) I’d check how their homework was going and notice multiple tabs open on their screen. 

I’d challenge them as to how they could concentrate on completing their work while distracted by social media. Despite this, they would complete it on time. 

Fast forward two decades and multi-tasking has become the accepted way of getting through life.

Scientific research is now discovering that constant multi-tasking is detrimental to our brain function. 

Shifting our attention rapidly from task to task creates patterns of flightiness and lack of concentration in the pathways of our brain. Every rapid, incomplete and poor quality shift of thought is like making a milkshake with your brain cells and neuro-chemicals. This opens us up to shallow judgements, weak decisions and passive mindlessness.

Deep, intellectual attention requires us to think through things one at a time in a focussed manner of careful consideration, listening intently or fixing our gaze on something. 

Before screens captured our attention it was common to read a book for pleasure and allow our imagination to take flight. This type of deep focus creates more folds in our brain’s cortex, which is a good thing! These folds enable us to process information faster, improve our memory and integrate our emotions.

Research found that the habit of singular focussed activity improves cognitive and emotional functioning. Study participants produced better quality work, increased efficiency and deeper understandings. They also improved in self-motivation and self esteem. There was a general decrease in negative emotions and emotional volatility. This led to better communication, positively impacting their relationships. 

Who would have thought that single focus could produce so many benefits? 

Time to turn off distractions and complete the crossword puzzle!