Science points to the statistic that our minds wander on average about 46.9% of the time from what we’re intending to pay attention to. This statistic is mainly from an adult population. Now, imagine if you grew up (and you might have) with all the digital distractions of the modern world and you can inflate that number. The alarming piece is that research shows that kids’ ability to resist distraction predicts how he or she will fare health-wise in adulthood. Dan Goleman, PhD author of the international best seller Emotional Intelligence and his new groundbreaking book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence shows us the science behind why the mental asset of attention may be the most important thing to focus on this year.
But while science and theory can peak our interest change never happens unless we put it into action. That’s what I’m glad Dan created an audio series that complements the book, giving us the practical techniques to increase focus of adults, teens and kids.
Neuroscientists are very clear that this area of the brain that lies within the prefrontal cortex just behind our foreheads grows with the brain from birth through our teenage years. While we now know that we can influence the brain at any age, these are crucial brain-wise years.
We can teach ourselves, our teens and our kids how to better train the brain not only to pay attention, but how to pay attention. For kids and teens, Dan starts out with helping them focus for a little while on their breath and proceeds to get them connected to their bodies, opening up the world of sounds and then increases emotional intelligence with short practice that build empathy, compassion and friendliness.
The younger generations need this type of mindful attention more than ever. If you’ve been following my work you know already that I believe if the children are our future, we need to teach them mindfulness.
The root cause of our suffering in this world is our brain’s snap judgments telling us what we can and can’t do, who we can and can’t like. When it comes to having stress, anxiety, depression, addiction or trauma, it goes on overload biasing toward the negative.
But are these thoughts absolutely true? And if not, how do they make us feel? Often times lousy or like avoiding the mystery of life. What would be there if these avoidant thoughts weren’t there? Maybe we’d be more curious, light on our feet and open to new experience. Maybe, just maybe, we’d be happy.
What would the world be like if our kids and teens more often learned to pause, put their judgments aside and let their experience guide us?
My prediction is the world would be far more peaceful.
That is the gift of mindful focus.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Teen reading a book image available from Shutterstock.