What Is Attention? I Want a Better Attention Span and Need to Know.
What is attention? Attention is the ability to hold the attention on a single target without shifting, wandering, or losing that target in any way. It is one of the most remarkable skills we can attain as human beings. Attention is the skill of focusing attention on one thought, subject, or action while ignoring distractions and unrelated thoughts. It enables you to work more efficiently and save time and energy in completing whatever you need to do with fewer mistakes. It is considered the master art.
The ability to focus the attention allows us to stay on track when achieving goals and to carry out tasks. It is a skill we need for our daily purposes but often needs strengthening and sharpening. The average human attention span is short. According to research studies, our attention span has markedly decreased over the years. The average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds. Just five years ago, in 2015, it was 8.25 seconds. Now scientists say the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. Which means our attention span has decreased to lower than a goldfish. Unbelievable!!!
Maybe not so unbelievable when you take into account this modern age of technology. People are overwhelmed with text, tweets, ads, emails, and more. Driving while texting and crossing the street with our heads down, looking at a device has become routine. With our brains hooked on distraction, it’s challenging to pay attention to one thing for very long. This lack of ability to hold our attention in one place expands to every area of our life. Our minds are being tossed about here and there, which means we are not in control. You are not at the helm. You are not the captain of the ship.
If you sit down quietly and examine the mind, you will notice it never stands still. The reason is continuous moving from one thought to another, never standing still in one place. The mind restlessness makes you aware that your attention is not under your control. After improving your attention skill, your concentration ability will improve significantly. You will be able to focus your mind and disregard irrelevant thoughts. You will be better able to complete what you are doing.
Improving your attention skill can be compared to going to the gym to strengthen your muscles. You start lifting light weights over time, and you increase the weight value getting stronger. In time what was difficult will become much more manageable. With a greater attention span, you will be able to move in a straight line toward completing any task and disregard irrelevant thoughts. We all should cultivate attention every day in every possible way.
An excellent way to accomplish attention control is to keep the mind steadily upon the work in hand, whether reading, writing, talking, listening, or attending to some simple duty. When it is time to move from one task to another, the mind should disregard the previous job and entirely focus on the present one. We have to focus on the target in all the little things we do until it becomes an ingrained and deep-seated habit.
Taking up some discourse or tasks that we very much prefer not to do and hold full, unwavering attention to the act will give the mind some rigorous work. It is the things that are difficult for us to keep the attention on that offer the most work to those mental muscles. The ability to ignore unwanted thoughts gives you the strength to not be distressed, experiencing more happiness in your life.
When attention control is lacking, the mind becomes restless and tends to be easily distracted, and fears, worries, and disturbing thoughts easily find their way into the mind. However, when attention control is well developed, you can easily refuse to let worries, anxieties, and restless thinking affect your mind, leading to peace of mind. When you focus the mind on one thought, other thoughts cannot disturb the mind, and you enjoy a state of inner peace.
The ability to hold and direct the attention in one place, to be able to attend to a single target is of profound importance in achieving our goals. After practicing some exercises, your ability to control your attention should improve considerably. You will be able to direct your attention wherever you want and fix it there. You can also focus on what you are doing and prevent your mind from wandering off to other thoughts.
As your ability to focus your attention improves, you will concentrate longer and more in-depth. You will also have the ability to reject unwanted thoughts and ignore distractions. As your awareness grows more substantial, you will ultimately be more efficient, make fewer mistakes, save time and energy, and achieve tremendous success.