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The Art of Perception 10

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Pay attention to the gifts around you.”

“Attention is one component of it. The other component is Meaning.

You see what you pay attention to.
You pay attention to what you consider meaningful. Everything else is invisible [<link; very short read].

We have a perceptual map of the world. This perceptual map is largely a map of meaning. In expanding the map, you’re expanding your reality.”

“How do you expand your perceptual map?”

“This is a game in itself.

All the things you usually notice form a perceptual pattern. This pattern traces the boundary of your reality. One way to expand your map is to regularly break this pattern. 

Make it a habit to look at things you don’t normally notice and ask yourself:

How is this a gift?

The Gift of Attention

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Attention is one of our most important resources. It creates our reality.

Attention is a Gift – your Gift to the world (Gift-Giving), and the world’s Gift to you (Gift-Receiving).”

What if you expressed Gratitude every time someone offered you the Gift of their Attention?

“Thank you for your Attention.”

“My pleasure, dear.”

Attention-Directing Tools

Most practical thinking takes place in perception.

Most thinking mistakes are not mistakes of logic but mistakes of perception.

(Edward de Bono)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Of the people who shaped my thinking over the course of my life, Edward de Bono had the biggest impact. Before I started reading his books, I used to think he teaches creativity. I’ve since realized that what he actually teaches is thinking – creativity is just one aspect of it.”

“What was the biggest insight from his work so far?”

“That an essential aspect of thinking is directing attention.

This was a paradigm shift for me. I used to think of thinking and perception as two distinct entities. As a result of this insight, I integrated them into a single system. 

Take the familiar example of thinking of a certain color. As a result, all objects of that color in the environment start magically popping into view. Through the use of a linguistic label you’ve directed the attention toward a specific subset of things in the environment.

Or take a decision you want to make. The likelihood of getting a favorable outcome depends on a number of factors. The quality of the decision depends on directing attention to and considering all these factors. For this purpose, Edward de Bono created a specific linguistic label: CAF – Consider All Factors.

Unlike the color in the previous example, which was used as a tool for directing attention, this is a specifically designed attention-directing tool

He has designed a number of these tools as a means to teach thinking as a skill – to children and adults alike. His CoRT (Cognitive Research Trust) program, teaches six such tools:

AGO (Aims, Goals, Objectives)
APC (Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices)
C&S (Consequences & Sequel)
CAF (Consider All Factors)
OPV (Other People’s Views)
PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting)

along with his Six Thinking Hats framework:

Red Hat: Emotions
Yellow Hat: Logical positive (Value Sensitivity)
Black Hat: Judgment (this is our default – and often only – hat)
White Hat: Information
Green Hat: Creativity (Lateral Thinking)
Blue Hat: Organization of thinking

This is a wonderful system. For me it’s also a blueprint for creating more such tools.”

“Is prioritization also a tool for directing attention?”

“It is. One of the most important: directing attention to the Most Important Thing (MIT) at a particular moment.”

Beautiful Models: Creating Space

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What one thing would you say most influences the quality of our lives?”


Attention is a process which happens automatically according to certain internal rules. Certain things draw our attention, other things do not.

Attention is also a process which we can control.”

“A bit like breathing?”

“In a way. However, unlike breathing, if we don’t control our attention, it controls us.

Directing attention is one of the fundamental (and most important) mechanisms of Thinking.

Not being in control of your attention is like a trance. While in the trance, you’re like a puppet to stimuli in the environment. Depending on the environment and the stimuli, that can be a good or a bad thing. 

Being in control means breaking the trance, gaining control of your attention. That’s also how you can enrich the quality of your experience.”

“How do you gain control?”

“I like to metaphorically think of it as ‘Creating Space‘. That is, Creating Space in the flow of experience for engaging Thinking in order to direct attention.

You can Create Space in two ways: by slowing down, or pausing.

Creating Space is a meta-practice, and an enabler for numerous other practices.”