More important things 2021-02-03 14:30:07

Many of us are familiar with the kinds of experiences that can completely absorb our attention and give rise to overwhelming feelings of frustration, anger, and anxiety:

A heated and unresolved argument with a colleague, family member, or friend that leaves you both feeling unsettled.

Final exams that you don’t quite feel ready for.

A job interview that you can’t help but replay and analyze.

Following these events, the passing of time and power of hindsight also tend to offer the re-realization that life goes on and that there are More Important Things.

More Important Things are things that, in the grand scheme, you realize are what give life an enduring sense of meaning and fulfillment. These things might include your family, your close friendships, the beautiful park you walk by every week that manages to look serene every day of the year, access to safe shelter, access to nourishing food, and so on.

When you are on the verge of being subsumed by the heat of a distressing moment, you may be surprised by how quickly a situation can be defused when you take a moment to turn your attention towards not what appears to matter the most in the moment, but what past experience has taught you will matter in the end.

William Liao

Shifting attention towards happiness A heuristic for picking a path
There's a line from the show The Wire:

"Get a life? What is life anyways?"

"It's all the shit that happens while you wait for moments than never arrive"


But yes. I think we get gamed. Back to your post about attention... we get gamed into paying attention to specific things that don't have our best interests in mind. And I think the most insidious fact about this gaming is that most of us aren't aware of it's happening. This has been changing now with more popular critiques of the gaming within the technological context such as documentaries like The Social Dilemma, but that brings us to the next era which is still dark. An era where we may be aware of the gaming on an intellectual or matter of fact level but not aware of it within the emotional moments.

But I do like the examples you listed off because of how relatable they are. Who hasn't robbed themselves of their present moment by brooding over the past. Who hasn't brooded over a thing like a job interview because they were so self conscious about what a job means to them. And who doesn't allow something like a job to become such a large identifying component of their life? And who even gets so far to actually honestly question what role a job plays in their life without either falling into anti-capitalism and nihilism or diving full on in to becoming their work and embracing workaholism and praise of exceptionalism? 

Many strings... many layers of values and attention that lay under us. This is why I think reflection is so important. Only through a reflective life and over time can we unearth such reasons for our values... can we then have a chance to choose the values that we actually want and then be free from momentary attention hijacking.

2021-02-03 14:43:09
I'm glad you found the examples relatable, they're all fairly recent ones for me so they were the most salient at the time of writing ><. 

I think the Lean Management technique of '5 Whys' is instructive for the kind of reflection you're talking about - the idea is simple: if you really want to understand anything, you generally need to ask multiple times. 5 is a bit arbitrary, but it's helpful because most of us stop after 1-3 whys. 

The attention hjjacking resonates too. It reminds me of the concept of a 'monkey brain' that's used in some Buddhist teachings - the idea that the mind behaves like a monkey swinging from one event and thought to another event and thought. Once we're aware of the monkey mind we can learn to coexist with it and be less beholden to it. 
2021-02-03 14:52:08
I love the five whys. I'll give you a rant on how we use it incorrectly in our call today haha. Also love the monkey brain metaphor. Though because of my western upbringing I use the example of the brain being a dog and a dog-walker.
2021-02-03 14:55:04
__I also wonder why I stayed in Bloomington. It was either I stayed here and have my own office work space. Or I go to NY then my mom has turned my room into an office.... Honestly NY is very very distracting for me. Everytime I go to NY and I want to get work done I can never get it done. The city is distracting. My friends are distracting. There is so much stimuli. Free event! Free thing! Look at this photography__

you're voice message -- quoted above -- made me wonder your response to this. It seems like
is moving towards indexing more on life outside of work and then you are indexing more towards focusing on work.

2021-02-03 15:04:29