“Let your mind become a lens, thanks to the converging rays of attention; let your soul be all intent on whatever it is that is established in your mind as a dominant, wholly absorbing idea.”

— Antonin-Dalmace Sertillanges

“How the world we perceive works depends on how we think; the world we perceive is a world we bring forth through our thinking.”

— H. Thomas Johnson

Reading: Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life

Not since Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow, have I encountered such a good book about attention that, you guessed it, captured my attention.  In Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, Winifred Gallagher discusses the basic premise that you are what you pay attention to, or to be more precise, what you choose to pay attention to.

She blends contemporary psychology with modern neuroscience to explain the phenomenon of attention, and debunk common misconceptions about things like multitasking–one second, off to check my twitter feed–ok, now I’m back–what was I saying–oh yeah, something about multitasking. Or was it attention. Get the idea?

Anyhow, the book is replete with cited studies and is well footnoted. Common themes around mindfulness meditation, effective “self-distraction”, and utilizing the “zone” bring the theoretical conversation back to day-to-day life and will undoubtedly make you look at your daily routine differently.

It turns out that Gallagher has also written about one of my other favorite subjects, how our surroundings can impact our thoughts and emotions in The Power of Place. My reading stack just got a little taller.

Gallagher, Winifred. Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life

My experience is what I agree to attend to.

William James