If I were to ask you what you spend your money on each month, in detail, you might think me rude for asking such a personal question. But I bet you’d be able to answer me, if you wanted to, with fairly exact information about what your rent or mortgage costs, how much you pay for your car or your education or your Netflix subscription, how much you put aside for your next holiday or your retirement.
And even if you have chaotic finances, don’t budget or keep receipts, don’t plan for the future, I guess you still know how much you pay for the things you value.
But if I asked you what you pay attention to every day, could you tell me that? Because I bet many people could not. Even though our attention may be the most valuable commodity we control.
Think of it like this. Every morning, when you wake up, your ‘attention account’ has been refilled. You are fully restocked with concentrated awareness that you can pay out for anything you choose during the course of that day. For example:
You could pay attention to news programs, to reports of what’s been happening in the world around you.
You could spend attention on advertising.
You could pay out attention to social media, your Facebook or Twitter or Instagram feeds.
You could pay attention to tending the relationships with important people in your life.
You could pay attention to your health, your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
You could spend attention on memories of things that hurt you or annoyed you in the past. And on still feeling hurt or angry about them.
You could pay attention to whatever you’re afraid of happening.
You could pay attention to what you’d like to create in the future. And so on…
But you can’t focus on all the above at the same time, obviously. And everything that you focus on, everything you notice or think about or obsess over, reduces the amount of attention in your account. Until, at some point, your account is empty, you are exhausted, and you fall asleep again. End of another day.
You may never have thought about your life like this. Can you relate to this perspective? Are you willing to try this idea on for size?
One of the basic principles that underlies all the information you’ll find on Artist of Life is this:
How you pay attention to things determines, in a big way, how you experience your life. Whether you are fulfilled and balanced and personally accomplished. Or not. And for this simple reason: whatever you pay attention to increases and multiplies and gains importance.
Most people, and I’m guessing here, do not consciously choose to increase and multiply their fears, hurtful memories, exposure to advertising and negativity and nonsense. Although, in fact, they are doing just that, by not being aware of what they are paying attention to.
By not being as selective with their mindset as they are with their money.
Now, we are not born into this world knowing about finance and investments and how to optimally deal with money. It’s something we have to learn, understand, practice. We need to become aware of our behaviour with regard to earning, spending, investing. And if we’re not satisfied with the results we’re getting, we have to change our behaviour (or get an advisor to help us).
Yet strangely, although we spend countless hours in childhood learning how to pay attention to things – to focus, to observe, to follow – I’d suggest that the majority of us, when we reach adulthood, know more about how our finances work than how our systems of awareness function.
Does that seem odd to you?
It took me quite some time to come around to this way of thinking. It was a perspective on life I could not simply accept; I had to prove it to myself. I had never thought about myself paying attention (except when a teacher shouted at me: ‘Pay attention!’), and I had to become accustomed to noticing what I was focusing on in moments when my mind was on autopilot, like walking down the street or driving.
This is hard work, but it can be very rewarding. If you choose to, you have the ability to reclaim the power of your mind that is wasted by not being aware of what you are paying attention to.
And one of the most effective tools to achieve this is meditation.