Paying attention: where your focus really is

Paying attention is a crucial component to our lives. It’s the most basic form of love.

Nothing in your education has taught you that what you notice is important.

verlyn klinkenborg

It’s a fun exercise to ask ourselves why we like the things that we like. We all have favourite songs, favourite foods, favourite brands and so on, but we seldom think about the story behind each preference.

When we take the time to understand ourselves better, we gain a new level of awareness. We’ll find clearer ways to focus on the activities or life projects that we truly care about.

At the same time, awareness goes beyond observing what we like. It’s also about paying attention to what we pay attention to. We are exposed to so much information from different platforms that it’s difficult to distinguish between the content that makes us escape to a comfortable reality and the content that nurtures our minds.

So the question is, where is our attention?

To answer this question, I’m proposing making a list of all items that get your attention throughout the day. Once it’s ready, it can be useful to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Which of those items align with my top priorities in life?
  • How many of them are helping me learn something new about myself?
  • For the items that are not helping me learn something: why are they part of my day?


We assign meaning to all things; all activities. Another good question is, why are they important to us? If we’re constantly looking for ways of escaping, why is that?

If you notice something, it’s because it’s important. But what you notice is depends on what you allow yourself to notice, and that depends on what you feel authorized, permitted to notice in a world where we’re trained to disregard our perceptions.

verlyn klinkenborg