Build Vitality by Focusing On Your Attention
Managing vital energy reserves by choosing where you let your attention wander
What is Vitality?
So often we think of vitality and strength as something we build through working out, by guiding our muscles through a process of gradual strengthening.
No question that that this is true, and it works. But the vitality we will talk about here, which does involve your physical strength, also involves a whole lot more!
For conversations like this I really like starting with a formal definition. It creates strong foundation for any discussion. Here’s the definition of Vitality from dictionary.com:
noun, plural vi·tal·i·ties.
exuberant physical strength or mental vigor:a person of great vitality.
capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence: the vitality of an institution.
power to live or grow: the vitality of a language.
vital force or principle.
I find this to be truly wonderful! This is not just about our muscles, or even endurance! This is about exuberant strength, and/or, mental vigor! It’s about the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence! A vital force or principle!
[All the exclamation points signify how inspired I get while discussing life’s potentially great opportunities! ]
So how does “Managing Your Energy Reserves” build vitality in your life?
There are so many ways to approach this, so many arenas to venture into, especially given the definition of vitality. So as a place to start, let’s take a look at how you can focus your energy around your attention to help build vitality.
You may be asking yourself, “how does attention influence vitality?”. Consider what it means to have the power to live and grow, or the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence. These not only take physical vitality, but certainly they must take emotional and mental vitality as well! As I said before, vitality has many facets that can be explored but I needed to pick one.
I was listening to one of Brene´ Brown’s podcasts with guest Amishi Jhs, and they were talking about attention. Amishi wrote a great book call Peak Mind where she writes about her research into the mind’s ability to focus, and its effects on your success and happiness.
This is where vitality is very relevant. The brain is wired for distraction, or said differently, it is wired to give attention to a lot of things in a variety of different ways. It’s got some serious skills in this field, but when left to its own devices, quite chaotic in how it goes about handling daily activities.
This is extremely relevant, because the capabilities of your attention are at the center of how effectively you get things done, what direction your actions take, and what outcomes are produced as a result.
However, it’s not just about producing results, it’s also about how you handle what life throws at you. I think many seek vitality as a means of being ready for what life throws our way. Here is a great quote from the Peak Mind book:
"A peak mind is not one in which we never experience fear, grief, sadness, uncertainty, or even ambiguity about a situation, but training the mind so that we can maneuver through those difficult circumstances with more ease instead of working against ourselves." ~ Amishi Jhs
The good news is that you can train the brain, just like you can train your body, to be more effective at paying attention. That’s great news, because as Amishi states from her research, "Fifty percent of the time, our minds are wandering.".
Why Managing is Important
Your attention has limits. That’s not to say you can’t increase your attention, and what the limits of this are, who knows. However, for most of us mere mortals, there is a limit, and as such, it is important to manage this reserve.
The fact is, if you can begin the exercise of noticing when you are distracted, or your mind is wandering, you have actually taken the first step in being able to do something about it! This simple act of noticing will first and foremost, immediately begin to pause the “attention leak” a wandering mind produces, giving you an option to choose where you want to place your attention.
You could go back to mind wandering, sometimes that’s helpful. But if you are doing it randomly, or over-using it to escape or avoid situations in your life, it’s likely not serving you - as it should.
So, are your ready to skill up your attention abilities? Vitality is just one of the many benefits you will experience from giving ten minutes a day to a simple practice that increases your ability to direct and leverage this precious resource that is all yours!
PS: If you have questions or thoughts you would like to share, please feel free to comment/ask questions below, or DM me on LinkedIn or Instagram.
If your familiar with Mindfulness, it is the best practice you can take up to increase your capacity for more focused attention. But if you are just getting started, here is a simple tool you can use to help regain more conscious control of your attention. It’s called STOP (from Amishi Jhs):
S = stop what you’re doing for a moment
T = take a breath
O = observe what’s happening in your mind (thoughts, emotions, body sensations) and around you (you environment, your circumstances) and notice without becoming drawn into what’s going on. Just observe, allow, and accept.
P = proceed with greater focus and clarity
At first it is not easy to engage this practice because we often realize our attention was wandering after it already happened! But I can tell you this from years of experience, it takes a little bit of work in the beginning, but very quickly your mind will “wake up” by itself when your attention has gone astray, and STOP just kicks in!
This is an easy way to get started, and in that moment you have a new opportunity for more conscious decision making, choosing where, how, and to whom or what you would like to give your precious attention!
The cure for all the ills and wrongs, the cares, the sorrows, and the crimes of humanity, all lie in the one word - 'love'. It is the divine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life.
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