How Do You Pay Your Attention?

Let’s talk about what attention means to you. I mean, it’s a very obvious one. But the problem with obvious things is that they’re not as obvious and common to everybody. What is attention?
I have a bit of a statistics that was almost frightening! I heard that the 30-second ad for Super Bowl was worth 5.6 million. And do you know how much it was worth when it started in 19… I think it was 67? It was $37,000! So, if you look at the inflation rate for your attention, it’s gone up a lot: $37,000 to 5.6 million. So, if somebody is prepared to pay $5.6 million for 30 seconds of not all of our attention, remember I mean not everybody in the world was looking at Super Bowl, so you can just calculate per capita or how does that work.

If somebody is prepared to pay that much for my attention, I should be guarding it with my life! But are you? Are you guarding it like that? I can just go by you on street and say a very, very negative word and there you go, I get your attention for the rest of the day. For the rest of the day, you’re going to go and tell somebody, “I don’t know what happened, this woman, I was just going by…” You keep repeating it. So, I am with you. I’ve got your attention the whole day. Right?

So, how valuable is your attention to you? I know it’s very valuable to other people, but the question is – how valuable it is to you? So, let’s see what it means to you. Where is easiest? Can I translate that? What’s “cheapest?” Because you see how we use these words. We pay attention, we pay money. Have you noticed that? Imagine attention is your inner currency. If it was money I wouldn’t say so, like, you know, “Where are you investing?” I said, “Well, whatever is loudest.” You would think I’m a really irresponsible investor. Whoever comes in, you know, tells me… grabs my attention. I go and put my money there. But we do that with our attention. That was a great reminder.

What is attention? Focus! Focus on one thing, I’m paying attention to one thing. But it’s at the price of not paying attention to other things. Right? So, if I was paying attention to you that means I’m ignoring all the other people to some degree. Because we can, I can still see or hear. But I am paying attention, meaning attending to one thing or one person or one thought at the price of excluding other things. Correct? So, now the question is – why am I paying attention to this person, to this thought, to this picture of life, to this version of life, to this event of life, whether it has happened or it hasn’t happened? Why am I doing this? Well, we may be doing it habitually. Which they tell us, the scientists, tell us that we, most of the time, we’re doing it habitually. Most of the time we have no idea what or why we’re paying attention to anything. Remember how expensive my attention was? Somebody paid 5.6 million to get 30 seconds of it. I’m sitting here thinking, “Ooohhh… last night, that woman in a party. I really didn’t like her. Why was she wearing that dress?” You know, I go for an hour. Let me see how many seconds times 5.6 million… Do you know how much I’m spending just based on Super Bowl? To think about a person. Am I saying you need to be always on top of it and paying attention? No, I’m not. I’m saying I want you to really comprehend the value of your attention, how valuable it is. If this was money, the money people in the room, you would be so particular about how you invest that money. So particular! “Research that you do this, you do that…” For anything, for $400, for $100,000 you would be so particular about it. But yet we give out this inner currency, these inner assets so unconsciously or frivolously. So, attention means attending, focusing on something particular.

So, what are the kind of things that we pay attention to? There are really two generic ways, things that we pay attention to. If you just want to understand it, we go very generic and then we become very specific. Really, there are two kinds:

  • things that have already been manifested and have taken place: thoughts, people’s memories, things, events, and
  • things that have not been manifested yet, they call them past and future.

But I’d like to talk about it from manifested and unmanifested because that way you understand your patterns much, much better. So, manifested was exactly what I said – what happened last night, what happened 10 minutes ago, what happened just before I leave, what happened 28 years ago. They are all already manifested. So, why do we go there? Why do I go to 28 years ago or last night, or yesterday and two hours ago, 2 minutes ago? Why? For understanding. That’s a very good intellectual explanation. How many times do you go back to understand it? Or maybe just relive it. Can you relive it? No. So, there is the intellectual explanation but there is the really… we can’t say it out loud because it sounds crazy. If I told you why I’m going there because I really think, I can recreate it. I think I can bring it to life if it was good. And most things become good when we lose them. Have you noticed? We remember the best version of things unless we want to say they’re in a bad category. But if they’re in a good category of life we want to recreate them. We want it to be exactly how it was. Is it possible? No. We think, the unhealthy version of this is really… I think if I go back long enough, especially if I complain about it long enough, it may change. Somebody may change my memories or maybe I can change them. We never say these things out loud because we know logically it makes no sense. But there are these hidden ways and reasons for us to go back. So, we go back to the manifested version of our lives because of either undoing what was done or redoing what we liked, and we want to do it again. “Oh, it was good old days, good old days, it was so wonderful.” But I want to ask people, where you were in the moment in those good old days? Were you enjoying it? Most of us are unhappy so, I have to conclude that maybe we were not. But there are good memories. I’m not denying good memories but I’m saying when we bring it out to the open, it’s great! Because then we can see what’s going on. We think, so let me translate, the things we said. So, I go back to the manifested aspect of my life because I think that I may undo the things that I didn’t like and didn’t serve me or relive, or recreate, or bring back those ones that I really liked. Possible? Is it possible? Has anybody ever done that? No.

But what about processing? That is a different category. That’s the only time you have visa to go back to the manifested world. Yes, I give you visa anytime. You go there because you have a very clear purpose. You’re going there to process. You’re going there to learn. You’re going there to do any of these things, understand. But when you do that then it’s a very specific mission that you have. Right? You’re going there with a tourist visa just like you go to see Italy. And you don’t say I’ll go and see what happens for whatever long. You’re very particular with what you’re doing. Right? And you have a return ticket. Then you can go. And that’s the only time that you can pay your very precious attention to the manifested aspect of your life. So, immediately after anything, you sit there and you say, “What did I learn? OK, so doing this doesn’t work.” If it was a business meeting, if it was a relationship, personal relationship, apparently when I do this and that, it doesn’t work, or this did work I should copy it and do it again. So, yes you go there exactly, that’s probably why you go there. Or you go there if it was really pleasant to know what gave you the pleasure, you know. I conclude that when I am in an environment that is this, and that and when I’m with friends, and when it’s this and that, it works for me. So, you’re learning. Yeah! So, we go to the past either for learning or lamenting. You choose your “L.” You’re going there for a particular purpose; you pay very particular focused attention and then you come back. Your visa was for 5 minutes, was for a day, was for processing, you know. I’m going to this professional, I’m processing. Great! But it’s just for that period of time.

But without awareness you will be going there quite often. And by the way, that’s what depression is – when you stay in the past without awareness for a long period of time with the hidden agenda of bringing it back or undoing it or redoing it or guilt or all those things, lovely things, that we feel when we go to the past. The extreme being in the manifested world, extreme of paying attention to the manifested world and experiences brings depression. That’s what depression. Every depression or sadness needs a past. So, you pay attention to the manifested. There are two options: one is to go there for the purpose of learning, and learning is a very broad subject, and broad area whatever that means to you. You called it processing, somebody calls it learning, somebody says analyzing if it’s more about the mind. Exactly these are all purposeful reasons to go to the manifested world, which is AKA past. But do we go there purposefully? Do we go there for this purpose? And if you do, that’s great! But that’s when I said you need to go with the visa. And I mean I use it as a joke, but I really mean it. It’s like if I was planning to go somewhere usually visas… if you ever got a visa to go to a country, you know that it expires. You know that there’s a time limit on it. And it’s the same thing that I’m going to visit my manifested experience of the past and the purpose of it is to understand it, to learn from it, to even understand what pleases me so I can recreate it. So, that is all fine. We need to do that otherwise we will never ever learn and grow and understand ourselves. That’s not a problem. The problem starts when not consciously I pay a lot of attention, I pay a lot of my attention to the past that is not serving me, that I’m not going there with any particular purpose. And my visa doesn’t sound or look like it’s going to expire. It just goes on and on and on. When I have nothing else, I’m just, you know, just visiting it all the time. Exactly, so that is not helpful. And that actually brings a sense of sadness as we were talking about. And that’s when most people feel sad most of the time is because the, where they live.

I’m a caregiver to my mom so sometimes I get a lot of, you know, women over 80 to be in my car. And it’s very interesting, I used the time to do a bit of research too. So, as they enter the car, I always look for something positive to say which is truthful. Because that’s a difficult one. You can always say something positive but something that is truthful, like you know, even if it is “I really like your lipstick” You know, whatever. I say something positive. And it’s fascinating to me, I could just tell you about how they live their lives by just their response to me. So, here are a couple of responses: “Oh, you should have seen me 30 years ago.” “Oh, this whole thing.” “Uh, so it’s not, this is not good, I know it’s not.” “Oh, my back, my back, my back.” It’s really interesting! I said something that could invite them to a place that would be pleasant for two seconds. You know, for a second! I said “You know, I love your hair.” “So, thank you!” But no, they can’t stand the present moment even when it’s, you know, authentically pleasant. And that’s my job, I make sure it’s authentic. They can’t. They have to go to the past that usually is lamenting. But there are also, there’s two of them that I usually pick first because I like their energy the most. And they sit in the car and if you said anything, “Isn’t it a good day?” You know, something, or “Isn’t it beautiful?” I said. “Yeah!” And they go on and on and on and on. You can tell that’s the stream of thoughts that they’ve been following. It’s a familiar pattern.

And the question is, what is your familiar pattern? Where do you go when you’re not that attentive to your attention? Where is it the place that you go and visit? Is it the manifested lamenting or manifested learning?


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