How to Pay Attention for a Better Life

10 Ways to Dismiss Distraction

Rapt attention is total focus. Learning to wield your attention like a powerful spotlight that illuminates your carefully chosen “target”--a sight or sound, thought, or feeling--helps you control your daily life, increases your concentration, expands your boundaries, and lifts your spirits. Most important, the rapt experience of being completely absorbed in a sunset or a song, a project or a person, simply makes life worth living. As William James, the father of psychology, put it: “My experience is what I agree to attend to.”

Here are some tips for raising your focus factor.

Winifred Gallagher is the author of “Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life” as well as “Just the Way You Are: How Heredity and Experience Create the Individual,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and “The Power of Place: How Our SurroundingsShape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions.” She has written for many magazines, from The Atlantic Monthly to Rolling Stone. She lives in Manhattan and Long Eddy, New York.


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