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Attention is all you have

“How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives. Mystics and contemplatives have made this claim for ages — but a growing body of scientific research now bears it out.” — Sam Harris, Neuroscientist

Whether you notice the progress your team has made or the challenges that remain,

whether you notice a beautiful rainbow outside or feelings of dread as your clothes get wet,

or whether you notice the fundamental ability to choose to be happy in this moment or the feeling that happiness is something you need to chase after,

are all determined by the same thing: how you pay attention.

In the same way physical endurance can be improved with regular exercise, or energy levels can be improved with regular quality sleep, physical changes in the brain and an increased capacity to notice and adjust how you pay attention from moment to moment in a way that improves the quality of your life can be cultivated with regular practice.

You don’t need to quit your job or pay for an expensive retreat to do this, and you can start today.

Here’s how:

  1. Commit to setting aside 10 minutes a day.
  2. Find a guided meditation resource — in the same way it’s helpful to have a trainer when learning to exercise, having a mindfulness instructor can help with developing an effective mindfulness practice (I use Waking Up, but there are many other options to consider)
  3. Start your first meditation.

The imperative to cultivate an ability to pay attention couldn’t be more clear: when it comes to the quality of your experience and how you respond to the most challenging moments in life, your mind and where you focus it is all you have.

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William Liao

William Liao

Taiwanese American, daily blogger of ideas about impactful work in service of others, photographer (ephemera.photography)