You Become What You Focus On
What you pay attention to influences your thoughts, which impacts your actions, which determines the outcome of your life
The following quote is 2000 years old. But it seems like it’s about today’s world: “Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people’s weakness.”
That’s from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. It couldn’t be more telling about our attention and the things we focus on. We allow other people to control us because we’re pretty much defenseless when the media exploits our weaknesses.
Now, I’m not against all media. But I do think there’s a lot of manipulation going on. Just look at every single social media platform, news website, streaming site, and every app on your smartphone and you’ll notice that you and I are being exploited.
You just have to look at the signs. What do you think I will do when I see a notification from Netflix, saying there’s a new season available for my favorite show? I’m going to pause everything else in my life and watch the WHOLE season in a few days.
And when I’m done, I’ll probably go on to the next thing on Prime Video or maybe watch some clips on YouTube. But I don’t do that because I shut myself off from those things.
I want to control my attention as much as I can. Why? Because If I don’t, millions of people and organizations are eager to control it for me. And what happens when others control your attention? You become a mindless drone.
A few tips to gain more control over your attention
First, you need to become aware of how important it is to be mindful of what you focus on. So let’s get back to Epictetus. He explained his point further:
“If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest.”
When I read this for the first time, I started taking this more seriously. I realized that I need to be the one who chooses to expose myself to certain…