It’s no coincidence that we use the term “paying” in relation to attention.
We also pay compliments and pay our respects, but the obvious thing we pay (and get paid) is money.
Most of us don’t value money for it’s own sake, but for the things we can do with it. Yet we’re very careful with money itself, only spending it after considering the value a particular purchase might deliver compared to the alternatives.
And if our money’s lost or stolen we tend to get quite upset.
However, our attention is even more valuable than our money. After all, having a nice car, house or clothes brings little benefit if our attention’s captured by the neighbours’ “better” versions of these things. Nor does a holiday if we’re complaining about the food or service, or mulling over work or problems at home. In those moments we aren’t even enjoying the things we paid good money for because we’re attending to something else.
In fact, our attention’s lost or stolen all the time but we don’t seem to get quite so upset.
Don’t take my word for it though; test it out with an experiment. For today at least take note of the things you’re spending your attention on. Just see where it goes.
Are you paying attention to things that deliver value, or to ones that sap your energy and enthusiasm? Things like criticism, fear, uncertainty or doubt? How is this affecting your quality of life?
When you notice where your attention’s going you might decide to start taking more care with it.