Voluntary vs. Involuntary Attention: What Grabs Your Focus

"I'm so poor I can't even pay attention." -- American folk saying. "The cobra feeling is an almost muscular albeit mental bearing-down on a subject or object, which you rise above, hood flaring to block distractions, and hold steady in your unblinking focus." -- Winifred Gallagher, author of Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life. What we call "civilization" dates back no more than a few thousand years—and in many ways, our biology has not yet caught up to our culture. Back in our nomadic hunter-gatherer days, Mother Nature shaped us to respond to the natural environment in ways that kept us safe. Those who listened to their protective instincts lived to fight another day—and to have babies. When a dry whirring at your feet meant Snake! and a glimpse of movement out of the corner of your … [Read more...]