In one of my previous posts I presented an idea that attention style combinations can be linked to personalities (see here). As you know, people can change. Soon you will learn that what really changes is their preferred attentional style/s. Read the story about Jim and follow his transformations.
Jim was always very pedantic and accurate. He worked as an office clerk. Jim dreamt about a promotion and replacing his boss when he retired. Living on his own not enjoying his life very much, he was convinced that hard work is what his life was all about.
Then someone introduced Jim to flying kites and he was surprised to find it very enjoyable. Possibly because he used to fly kites with his dad when he was a little boy. Soon Jim was spending all weekends on the beach trying different types of kites. It was making him truly excited. Every time the kite was flying high he felt a bliss in his heart and he was turning into a completely different person. Running on the sand with bare feet and messed up hair, looking at the sky and laughing to himself. He was clearly losing himself in the activity and it was making him very happy.
Then one day, when Jim was walking across a park rushing for an evening bus, he met a woman. She was trying to fly a kite which was stuck in a bush. She asked Jim for help. At that time Jim already knew a lot about kites and he naturally showed her a few tricks. They soon started meeting regularly to share their passion. Jim and Kim. Jim took her to his favourite beach where they could fly kites together. Runing along the beach, feeling as one, immersed in each other. And their true love flourished.
Jim was still narrow attention style dominant but now he had two ways to immerse. Flying kites and loving Kim. Jim became a lot more immersed with life shifting his attention even more to the right on the graph. Jim’s personality became more balanced between both sides of the narrow-diffuse axis. It obviously effected other areas of Jim’s life and one day he realised that planning his future is as important as enjoying the now and the real value of money is not hidden in a number but in an ability to provide him happiness.
Then Jim and Kim had one, two, three, four, five children. Jim had to learn how to share his love between all of his family and kites. He also had to learn to live in the chaos left by his children everywhere in his house and his life. He actually found it less and less disturbing with time and learned how to make the best of it. He also learned to let go and rely on his gut feeling instead of painstakingly analyse everything before making decisions. It usually did not lead him to a perfect outcome but he had a lot more time to enjoy his life and family.
Jim’s overall attention became more diffused making him more balanced on both sides of the objective-immersed axis. He changed his job because he found the ‘rat race’ atmosphere in the office very unhealthy for himself. He opened a small beach shop with kites and other things used for enjoyment at the seaside. It was not very profitable but it allowed him doing something he found very important – sharing his happiness.
Now, imagine Jim staying fixated on narrow/objectivity. Say, trying to fly kites but finding it useless as it never helped him to become a new manager in his office. Meeting a girl but the only thing he cared about was what he could get from this relationship and how it was going to help him achieving his goals. The life of a person stuck in the narrow/objective attention style dominancy without the access to immersing seems lifeless. By the way, you may now realise that many films and books describing people going through a personal change really show the transformation of their dominant attention style. Think for a moment about “Cars”, “Avatar” or “Schindler list”.
Flexible attention is an ability to alternate between narrow attention (focused) and diffused attention (broad) or to apply both at the same time.
Narrowing makes us specific but requires dividing reality into smaller pieces (objects). Diffusing allows us to see the big picture and connect (immerse) with its elements.
Pain, anxiety and problems make the attention narrow and objective. We can self help ourselves by diffusing and immersing our attention.
Continue to this post.