Modern technology inundates us with information about the world. From 24-hour news reporting to social media updates, there is not much we aren’t aware of. With our attention pulled in every direction, it takes a discerning eye to focus on the right objects. Perhaps because of the constant updates about our cities, countries and planet, we struggle to find moments to focus on ourselves. Conversely, when all of our attention is directed internally, our awareness and appreciation of others is limited.
Choosing what to focus on can be a conscious or subconscious decision. Sometimes habits take over the process such as a morning routine when getting ready for work. On other occasions, instinct, careful thinking, or even apathy can lead us to our choice. Whichever the process, it is important to consider the impact our choices can have on our day-to-day lives.
Committing time and attention to one discipline inevitably prevents mastery of another. As such, ensuring full focus on whatever we choose to concentrate on is essential if we are to enjoy it and reap the rewards. However, there are moments when switching off is necessary and turning our focus to a more relaxed activity will be beneficial. The difficulty lies in making sure we maintain concentration on our subject once we have chosen! Winston Churchill aptly described this when he said “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks”.
Ultimately, timing in life will largely dictate where our focus lies and what gets prioritised. It would be unrealistic to expect perfect focus on all aspects of life, all of the time, but an awareness of our own feelings and mindset is important. Sometimes this is easy to read but more challenging to address. We may acknowledge circumstances but postpone dealing with them; or perhaps spend our time distracted by external factors. This may then lead to a sudden outburst of emotion as unaddressed thoughts and feelings take effect. Either way, it is important to find the right balance between moments of voluntary distraction and moments of intentional deliberation.
As Albert Einstein once said “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”