Tag Archive | Attention

The Art of Perception 13

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of the Art of Perception?”

Attention and Meaning. 

By Attention I mean two processes: Directing Attention and Pattern-Recognition. These are two fundamental operations of the human mind.

By Meaning I mean three processes: Decoding Meaning (which is essentially a kind of pattern-recognition), Encoding Meaning (imbuing things with meaning), and Creating Meaning (Sense-Making).

Attention and Meaning form the heart of Perception. Together they create your subjective reality. The Art of Perception is the art of optimizing Attention and Meaning to shape your subjective reality.

The Art of Perception is the Art of Reality Design.”

Clarity

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Seek Clarity.”

“Can you clarify what you mean?”

Seek Clarity of Purpose.

What is it that you and only you can do? (Onlyness)
How can you use your unique gifts in greatest service to the world?

Seek Clarity of Identity.

Who are you? What is the essence of who you are?
Who do you want to be?

Seek Clarity of Values.

What qualities does the highest version of yourself possess?
What are the things you choose to never compromise on?

These form your Compass of Meaning, which helps you find your way back to the Path when you (inevitably) get lost. They’re also a reality filter. In directing Attention, they shape your reality.

Seek Clarity of Practice.

To consistently be who you want to be, you need to consistently practice it. You can practice something in every waking moment.

What can you practice in this context?
What can you practice now?

Seek Clarity of Focus.

To do your best work, you need to focus your Attention on one thing at a time.

What is the highest-leverage thing you can focus on?
What is the highest-leverage thing you can focus on now?”

“What if you have multiple valuable things you can focus on?”

Seek Clarity of Priorities.

Employ what I call the value razor [<link; short read].

Which value is more important/impactful now, x or y?”

The Art of Perception 9

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Perception is not what you see. Perception is how you interpret what you see.

I like to think of Perception as an Art, and a Practice.”

“How do you practice Perception?”

“Perception has two components: Attention, and Meaning.

For instance, in any situation, you can direct attention to what’s within your control or to what’s outside your control. This is an ancient Stoic practice called the dichotomy of control. I call all conceptual tools that direct attention, lenses [<link; short read]. We might think of this particular tool as the lens of control.”

“So Perception is about artfully directing attention.”

“Yes.

I call the skill of optimally directing attention, selective focus.

As concerns meaning, I like to think of it using a metaphoric model which I call foreground/background. The foreground draws meaning from the background. 

To change the meaning of something, you can change its foreground – its mental representation – and/or you can change its background.”

“Can you give an example?”

“For instance, you can think of any experience as a Gift (foreground). In changing its representation, you’re imbuing it with meaning. 

You can think of an activity as a Ritual (foreground), and of Ritual as a gateway into the universe of The Sacred (background).

Or you can think of an activity on the backdrop of your Master’s Journey (background).

I call the skill of artfully changing the meaning of something, reality painting.

The Art of Perception 7

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“It took me TWO HOURS to send a little package at the post-office.”

“It doesn’t matter what happened. The only thing that matters is how you respond to it.

What is the antifragile response?

In an important sense, the Art of Living is the Art of Perception. You’re upset only because of your interpretation of it. And your interpretation is largely a matter of what you choose to focus on.

How can you beautify this interpretation?

Design interpretation, then design behavior.

How could you have beautified that time?

The Antifragility Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I practice Antifragility?”

See it as a game.

In essence, it’s a game of Perception. You’re playing with Attention and Meaning.

For instance, let’s say a specific situation triggers frustration. Like when a web-page takes too long to load. 

What’s the antifragile response?

You might ask yourself:

How can I beautify this moment?

You might choose to focus on – direct your Attention to – Gratitude. You can bring to mind all the silent gifts you tend to take for granted: your computer, with all its peripherals, the Internet, the chair you’re sitting on, the table you’re sitting at, etc.

You might choose to focus on Time. That small time-window is a beautiful opportunity for a micro-meditation. You can take a few mindful breaths, smile, connect with yourself, and relax.

By accessing some internal resources – Gratitude, Meditation – you’ve taken the situation and turned it on its head.”

“What if in the same situation I’m in an unresourceful state? That makes it harder to access my internal resources.

To quote Tim Ferris:

In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.

“In that case, changing your state becomes the absolute priority.

The best way to change your state quickly is by doing something intensely physical. Like a sprint, or a few burpees… or climbing a tree.

The Movement Game is an essential aspect of the Antifragility Game.

“What if I’m somewhere in public?”

“Even better. You get to practice indifference to other people’s opinions as well – or what I like to call, social deconditioning.”

On Mindfulness and Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I love Emily Fletcher’s definition of Mindfulness:

Mindfulness: the art of bringing your awareness into the present moment.

“Bringing your awareness into the present moment is easy. Keeping it there, that’s the hard part. I’d rephrase the definition to:

Mindfulness: the art of keeping your awareness in the present moment.

“What’s the practice?”

“I find it useful to compare it with Meditation.

Meditation is the practice of focused awareness. Focusing your attention on a point (anchor-point).

Mindfulness is the practice of diffuse awareness. Focusing your attention on the now, on the present experience, and engaging all senses (VAKOG).

The two practices are complementary.

It is possible to combine the practices into one. 

Mindfulness Meditation is the practice of both focused and diffuse awareness. While focusing your attention on a point, expanding your awareness to your entire peripheral field of vision, and engaging all senses. 

I know this practice from NLP. The practice originates from Hawaii where they call it Hakalau. In NLP it is also referred to as ‘the now state’, or ‘the learning state’.”

“You use the word ‘presence’ a lot. What’s the difference between mindfulness and presence?”

“The way I use them,
presence is the desired state,
mindfulness and meditation are the practice for reaching the state.”

On Daily Reflection and Templating

When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by. For why should I fear any consequence from my mistakes, when I’m able to say, ‘See that you don’t do it again, but now I forgive you.’ (Seneca)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I end every single day with a reflection on the day.”

“What’s your process?”

“My process has two stages: Reflection and Design.

Reflection
What went well? (Celebration)
What needs work? (Understanding; Failure-Points; Decision-Points)

Design
What can you optimize? (Optimization)
What will you do differently next time? (Implementation)

To make the process more efficient, I’ve created a daily-reflection template [<link; medium length]. 

My daily-reflection template

The template is an attention-directing tool. It directs my attention to specific points of interest. In my case, those points are:

Presence
Play
Oscillation

Learning
Connection
Movement

Then I look at them through various lenses [<link; medium]. 

One lens is Brian Johnson’s wonderful Big Three framework:

Energy
Work
Love

Another lens is Balance. I check how balanced the Three were against one another, and the balance between Input and Output [<link; medium] (Input/Output Ratio).

Another lens is Quality. I’m interested not only in doing them, but in doing them well, and in constantly increasing Efficiency.”

On Attention and Focus

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I improve the quality of my experiences?”

The quality of your experience is the quality of your Attention. This makes attention management one of the most important life-skills.”

“What is the difference between Attention and Focus?”

“Focus is a functional-model for Attention. It is useful because it reveals some important properties of Attention.

Attention properties:
Depth
Direction
Width

Each property has a corresponding skill. In isolating them, you can focus on and train them individually.

Attention sub-skills:
Deep-Focus (Depth)
Selective-Focus (Direction)
Wide-Focus (Width)

Deep-Focus is the capacity to maintain Attention on one thing (One-pointed Attention). This is what you’re essentially training with Meditation.

Selective-Focus is the capacity to choose the optimal direction for Attention in any given moment.

We have a tendency to collapse Attention to a point. Wide-Focus is the capacity to expand Attention to the entire field of experience.”

“What is the optimal direction for Attention?”

“I’ve identified five dimensions (so far):

Focus on what you can control (not on what you can’t).
Focus on what you have (not on what you don’t).
Focus on the process (not the outcome).
Focus on the solution (not the problem).
Focus on the positive (not the negative).

You can think of them as a moment-to-moment checklist.

What are you focusing on now?

Selective-Focus checklist:
Control / Not control
Have / Not have
Process / Outcome
Solution / Problem
Positive / Negative”

“Why are you emphasizing the opposite in each case?”

“This makes it easier to invert [<link; medium length] them.”