Focus more, be distracted less … and enjoy more happiness & success

Focus more, be distracted less … and enjoy more happiness & success

In many ways, happiness is very much about focus.

Many of us know what we want or need to do to be happy; but many of us are too easily distracted!

It makes sense, then, that if we can more effectively focus our attention on what’s really important, and not be tempted by the many distractions, that we’ll enjoy more happiness and live a better, more successful life!

Sound good? Keep reading…

via TED Ideas by Rebekah Barnett

Our attention gets hijacked by everything from the stress in our lives to the ding of our phones. Neuroscientist Amishi Jha shows how we can cultivate the ability to focus on what really matters.

“I think, therefore I am distracted.”

If Descartes were writing today, this is what his famous aphorism might have become. We’re living in an age of distraction, battered by our own customized waterfall of notifications, alerts, texts, videos, bingeable TV, and more. It’s not surprising our minds often feel like a jumble.

But it turns out we’re not at the mercy of our runaway minds. Amishi Jha (TED Talk: How to tame your wandering mind), an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami and the director of contemplative neuroscience for the UMindfulness Initiative, studies the brain’s attention mechanisms, and she’s found there are specific exercises we can do to strengthen our ability to pay attention. Here, she explains how you can get your wandering mind back under control.

Our attention is fragile. Jha likens our attention to a “a flashlight you can direct to whatever you choose.” Since research indicates our mind wanders 50 percent of our waking hours, it means most of us are walking around with darting, flickering flashlights. Internal distractions — everything from job stress to a craving for alcohol — and external distractions — like a thunderstorm weather alert on our phone screen — easily disrupt our attention. Whether the interruptions are significant or silly, they are “a basic hijacking of our attentional resources away from the task at hand,” she says. This lack of attention has serious consequences for all of us, but especially for people in high-stakes fields like medicine, the military and criminal justice.

So, how do we gain control of those flickering flashlights and achieve focus? “That’s where mindfulness training comes in,” says Jha. She describes this training as a “portable brain fitness routine to keep our attention strong.” She has tested the effects of such training on subjects in high-stress groups, like athletes and military personnel. Her research has found that the attention of someone who hasn’t had mindfulness training declines when they’re under intense stress, but in people who’ve had training, their attention remains stable. What’s more, in people who regularly do mindfulness exercises, their attention actually gets better over time — even when they’re under stress. According to Jha, researchers have started to uncover other benefits associated with mindfulness, including reduced anxiety, protection from depression relapse, and improved working memory…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE