Individuals in an ever competitive environment are constantly running the race of rats trying to be successful; may it be monetarily, socially, professionally and in the field of relationships. Children are started to be taught the ways of the world the moment they become remotely receptive or are at least perceived to be so lest they lag behind in this race. But a very interesting pattern can be noticed when the race and the participants are observed closely.
Only the individuals with higher attention spans last longer in the race so as to win it (be successful in life), while others, not so much. So what is this thing called attention and why is this so important? And if it is so then, instead of feeding data into minds of individuals in academic institutions, is it not wiser to teach them how to absorb the data more efficiently via a more concentrated and mindful brain with higher powers of attention? Lets see
What is attention?
Attention is an uninterrupted focus on something which involves concentrating on the thing to be focused on or done.
It’s the span of time in which an individual can concentrate on something in an uninterrupted manner.
Pre-requisites to unbroken attention:
A concentrated mind which does not flinch or have any other thoughts while focusing on thing to be done, heard, spoken of or about.
How to concentrate:
by calming the mind and eradicating thoughts and being in the moment.
How to calm mind:
- Being mindful or aware of bodily physiological functions like breathing, essentially helping one to stay in the present moment.
- Being mindful or aware of sounds, sights, smell at the moment without judging them.(Judging would give rise to thoughts essentially distracting the mind)
Major causes of distraction of mind obstructing individual’s prowess of paying attention:
- Thoughts of craving or thoughts that individual holds dear (about the past or about future). For example:
Thoughts of a good time had with someone special or thoughts of good food or daydreaming about pleasant future prospects etc.
- Thoughts of aversion or thoughts that an individual does not hold dear (about the past or about the future). For example:
Thoughts about someone not liked by the individual due to what he/she had said or done or thoughts of some bad experience of the past or thoughts about what might go wrong in the future etc.
- The inability of the mind to be in the present moment without creating any thoughts about liking or disliking present scenario.
Benefits of being able to pay attention for a long time:
- High level of efficiency in work
- High levels of concentration generating deeper levels of attention.
- Calm and composed mind
- Reduction of thoughts of craving or aversion or of both past and the future thus reducing anxiety or depression or mania and various mental aberrations.
- Reduction of Impulsiveness as the mind is stable and more patient in situations (dire or normal).
- Flowering of wisdom and meaning in life.
- High level of control over thoughts in mind as alertness is developed over the mental tendencies.
- Healthier physique ( Since mind and body influence each other because fixing one takes care of the other )
- High level of confidence in social situations ( As the individual stays in the moment with high levels of awareness, making him/her extremely receptive to the needs of the social interactions of the moment)
- Happier and fulfilling life
- High levels of empathy generating compassion.
Dangers of short attention spans:
- Low levels of concentration reducing the hold of an individual on his/her mental functions.
- High levels of impulsiveness giving rise to bad decisions in life.
- Bad decisions in life creating high levels of stress and anxiety
- High levels of stress creating anger and agitation
- Wrathful and irritability generating social alienation.
- Increase in Passive aggressive tendencies.
- Low level of efficiency in work
- Depression, anxiety.
- Bad Relations
- Low levels of Empathy leading to psychopathy.
- Suicidal tendencies
- Low levels of confidence in social situations
- High susceptibility to substance abuse, addiction, mental disorders.
Influence of Digital media on attention span of an individual:
Digital media has crippled individuals’ powers of concentration due to an enormous number of mediums to pacify senses that is
Each instance of pacification of the senses leaves individual wanting for more external stimulation hence creating enormous digital dependency.
Outcomes of which are
- Internet addiction
- Gaming addiction
- Low levels of interpersonal skills
- and several other types of addictions.
Hugh amounts of data enter the minds of the people in a society through digital means, engaging them mentally even long after they have left their laptops television sets, crippling their ability to be mindful of the present moment.
Thus more and more external sources of digital stimulus give genesis to lesser attention spans in individuals which eventually result in materializing of all the points mentioned above in the subheading “Dangers of short attention spans”.
This gives rise to turmoil, hatred, loss of empathy, selfishness, greed, war, riots, rape, addictions and corruption in a society.